Mass versus Weight

Our students seems to struggle with the concepts of mass and weight.  In general, people often use the words “mass” and “weight” interchangeably, but these words have different meanings.

Mass refers to the amount of matter in an object, and it does not dependent on gravity; your mass on Earth would be the same on the any other planet or anywhere else in the universe.

Weight is a measurement of the  “heaviness” of an object, or the strength of gravitational pull on that object. Your weight would change between the Earth and any other planet because the gravity is different in these places.  My students are required to memorize the acceleration due to gravity on Earth, 9.8 meters per second squared.

We have several class discussions to help students understand the differences between mass and weight, including units of measurement for each quantity.  My students also liked the explanations on the following website.



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