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Gravity Table

Tactile Objects | Projects

  • Gravity Table allows people to experience the effects of gravity on other planets by lifting a familiar object. Using simple machines, the project involves a lever and weight to change the weight effect of the hammer (object) to the desired planet that the user wants to feel.

    Gravity! It’s all around us! We know how it works, but what does it feel like when the effect of gravity is expressed on other planets? Gravity Table lets the user feel how the weight of an object (a hammer) changes depending on the gravitational pull from different planets. When using the project, a weighted box is moved across a lever and dropped in a notch. From there, the hammer is then lifted to feel the new weight of the object.

    The main goal of this project is to create a hands-on experience for those who are fascinated with gravity and space. The core idea of our project has always revolved around the process of lifting an object off of a table,. However, over time we have changed, the project went through many design iterations. Some of the first ideas involved using a ball on a string and depending on a setting chosen, the ball would feel lighter or heavier as it is moved up the string. After realizing this would be difficult to make because of size, a new idea came to mind. From this point on, the project began to look like the final design which we have. One difference between this early idea and the final is the use of simple machines. Originally, the weight of an object was going to be adjusted using a system of pulleys. This was worked on for a month or so until we hit a moment of realization: Pulleys would be inefficient to use because the effect of the machine changes an object’s weight in set fractional increments (i.e. ½, ¼, ⅛). After spending some time figuring out how to make a pulley system work eventually, the idea of a lever was proposed and incorporated into new design concepts.

    The table was designed using a lever to convey an understanding to others how the effect of gravity feels on other planets than Earth. The hammer was chosen as the lifted object because its weight is familiar to the user, giving them a better sense of the change in gravity from different planets. The brains behind the idea of Gravity Table wanted to use an object that both showed a significant change in weight between the planets and also is familiar with the user's knowledge of how the object feels. The lever allowed for the weight to be varied to match specific calculations and could be easily adjusted when changing settings for the chosen gravitational pull.  The final product was then designed to show graphics of outer space and fun phrases were added to make the final project more visually appealing. The panels were designed to look like the night sky with eye-catching stars. Some of the side panels displayed the phrases "Don't Worry, It's Just Gravity," and "Got Gravity?" to add to the interaction and appeal to the user.

    The final product of our project properly displayed the changing of the hammer's weight but using the simple machine of a lever allowing for a basic way to portray our original ideas.


    Gravity Table: This proposed museum exhibit piece creates a dynamic hands-on experience for visitors to learn about gravity. It uses simple machines to generate the affect that varying gravitational pulls other planets would have on an everyday object.

    Cultivating ideas for this project resulted in many different ideas, including a vest to simulate weight change on other planets. The idea eventually morphed into a table which held everyday objects such as, a water-bottle, a pencil, and a hammer. One after another, cardboard models were broken and re-designed.This process resulted with the Gravity Table. at first it was gonna hose many different objects but the table designed was not large enough for this process so a singular object would be the example, or at least that's what we planned. Day after day, the search for new methods to alter an object's weight were recorded and tested. These tests included different types of pulley systems?, until the design was discovered in a physics meeting. A lever utilizes the input of force to make something heavier. The first prototype for this new design was made using a pencil, string, paint stick, and a fulcrum. Once a cardboard model of the lever design was created and successfully tested,   the creation of a more robust, wooden lever and 3D-printed fulcrum began.

     The second class lever was used in this project because it allows adjustment to be made to an object's weight when lifted. The second class lever placed the fulcrum to the far side of the lever in order to maximize the amount of space needed to edit an objects weight. Mounting the fulcrum and lever to the table then led  to the next step in the design process: a flashy design to hide the machines inside and create an aura of mystery with the project and the calculation of the placement of notches on a panel to allow for a weight change. The calculations easily more difficult took multiple weeks and ended up being right on time as the last of the optical stimulating panels was printed and applied to the table. The notched panel was designed, laser cut and hand-painted.  However, one challenge remained. The notches where not tall enough to allow  the object that rested on the table to move when lifted but  the panel notches were adjusted accordingly using a jig-saw. To complete the final process, the adjustable weight was created and placed in its rightful throne . The goal to make learning about or educating others on gravity a more hands-on  experience, had been done and in an elaborate manner in that met standards higher than what we set for the project. The presentation was nearly flawless and the feedback collected was genuine. From there the creation of a brief and the closing of High School careers,  what's next?