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Losing the Tennis Ball Bounce

based on 22 ratings
Author: Kimberly Hutmacher

Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Physics

Objective:

This project determines how much the rebound rates of tennis balls change after ten games.

Research Questions:

  • What is the rebound rate of a new ball?
  • What is the rebound rate of a ball used after ten games?
  • Does it matter what kind of ball is used?
  • Does one ball experience more wear than the others?
  • Does one ball hold up better than the others?

The rebound rate of a tennis ball is the ratio of the height to which the ball bounces divided by the height from which the ball is dropped. We'll use rebound rating to measure the bounciness of new tennis balls versus those that have been used for ten games.

Materials:

  • 3 new tennis balls (make sure they are each different brands)
  • Tennis rackets and court
  • A volunteer to help you measure
  • Pen or pencil
  • Lab notebook

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Begin by measuring the rebound rate of each of your new tennis balls. Record the results for each ball in your notebook.
  2. Over the next several months, use each ball to play ten games of tennis.
  3. After you have played all the games, repeat step one and record your results.
  4. Analyze your data. How did the rebound rate changed for each ball? Were results similar for all three or did one ball experience more or less wear than the rest? Any surprises?
  5. Graph your data to illustrate your results.

Terms/Concepts: rebound rate, ratio

References:

Why Do Tennis Balls Lose Their Bounce? http://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=951.

How quickly does a tennis ball lose its bounce? http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Sports_p039.shtml.

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