Part of Lesson Plan: It Really is Rocket Science Part 2
Activity Overview / Details
Galileo Galilei was an Italian scientist from the late 1500's and early 1600's. He is most famous for improving the telescope and using it to observe the planets. His observations led him to believe that the planets revolved around the Sun, as first hypothesized by Nicolaus Copernicus. This got him in trouble with the Catholic Church, which supported Aristotle's theory that the Sun and the planets revolved around the Earth. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher from the 300's BC. He thought that objects that weigh more fall faster than objects that are lighter weight.
But Galileo was also a mathematician, and he used math to explain science. He used math, logic, common sense, and everyday experiences to explain how forces work. He described how an object resists a change in motion; we call this the Law of Inertia. Isaac Newton used this idea to form his First Law of Motion. Galileo died in 1642, the same year thet Newton was born.
See below for links to two short videos on Galileo's Tower of Pisa experiment. Legend has it that Galileo challenged the generally accepted theory of Aristotle that heavier objects fall faster. So he climbed up the Tower of Pisa and dropped two balls at the same time, one made of lead and one made of wood. Even though it is a famous story, Galileo himself probably did not actually drop the two balls from the Tower.