Explain: Communicate

Gravity Slingshot

High School

Driving Question

How could a gravity slingshot be used to move the Earth away from our dying Sun?


Students will research and discuss how gravity slingshots could be used for space travel and what would be needed to move the Earth.


  • Student Handout
  • Chairs for each student
  • Computer with Internet access

Set Up

  • Have the students make 2 equal circles with their chairs.  (Ex. If you have 30 students, make a small circle with 15 chairs, and then a larger circle on the outside of that with the other 15 chairs.)
  • Student A is sitting in the inner circle.
  • Student B is sitting in the outer circle

Facilitation Points

  • The Teacher will need to set the classroom expectations for the dialogue.
  • Active listening
  • Wait turn to speak
  • Build on the discussion
  • Everyone must contribute to discussion
  • The teacher will pose the question to be discussed.
  • Have computers available to research gravity slingshots.
  • Make sure that the students include information about how gravity slingshots work and how they may be used to move the Earth in their discussion.
  • Each section of speaking should have a time limit of 5 minutes.


  1. Read the driving question to the class and discuss what they think gravitational slingshots are. Is that possible they could be used to move the Earth?
  2. Allow students time to research gravity slingshots and formulate their thoughts on the Student Handout.
  3. Divide the class into two groups that will make up the inner and outer circles. Have the students sitting in their chair facing another student.
  4. The teacher will remind the students of the expectations for each group.
  5. The teacher will pose the question to the students again to initiate discussion.
  6. Have Student A explain what they think in regards to the posed question. While this is happening, Student B should be actively listening and taking notes on what Student A is saying
  1. Once their 5 minutes is up, it is time to switch roles and seats.  The Student B is now sitting in the inner circle, will now speak about what they think, what they agree/disagree with what Student A said.  Student A should now be actively listening and taking notes on what Student B is saying.
  2. Once their 5 minutes is up, it is time to switch roles and seats for the last time.  During this time, Student A, now back in their original seat, has time to rebut or agree with what Student B has said.  Student B is now actively listening.
  3. At the end of the discussion, teacher will provide a wrap-up of the discussion. Be sure to clear up any misconceptions.

Guiding Points

  • Encourage students to research how gravity slingshots have been used in the past and how moving the Earth may be similar or different.