GPS and Relativity

Students investigate how GPS depend on Einstein‰۪s theories of general and special relativity to function and explore how they determine the location of a receiver on Earth. Simple yet powerful activities are used to illustrate the Equivalence Principle and prompt students to think deeply about its implications.


  • Lesson plans: GPS and Relativity
  • Videos: The Global Positioning System and Relativity (approx. 8:31 min)
  • Activities: Free Fall and Zero Gravity; Acceleration and Artificial Gravity; Thought Experiment: Applying the Equivalence Principle; Time in Relativity (worksheets and solutions)
  • Supplementary Materials: Special Relativity and the GPS, General Relativity and the GPS, and more

(Note: all lesson plans and worksheets provided as PDFs and modifiable MS Word documents)