Black Holes: No Escape

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This fun and simple hands-on astronomy activity lets learners experiment with marbles and weights to discover some basics about gravity and black holes. A key message of the activity is that space is curved completely around black holes—we cannot escape. Participants will explore the relationship between mass, distance, and gravitational attraction. The PDF contains step-by-step instructions, photos, presentation tips, and links to background information.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Model, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 2 buckets (13”/33 cm plastic planters), from a garden store
  • 2.5 lb (1 kg) lead weight, from a fishing or sporting goods store
  • 8 oz (225 g) lead weight
  • 4 oz (100 g) lead weight
  • 2 pee-wee marbles
  • 2 shooter (1"/2.5 cm) marbles
  • a few regular marbles
  • 2 bungee cords
  • 2 18" (45 cm) squares stretch fabric
  • 4' (1.5 m) of string
  • fishing bobber (sports store)
  • large towel or blanket


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Stars and Galaxies
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Newton's Laws
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access