Grade level: 6th to 8th Type: Sports Science
This project will explore the interaction between air pressure and playing surface in determining a basketball’s bounce.
- Is air pressure important?
- Do playing surfaces affect performance? If so, which air pressure performed best on which surface?
- Besides wood and cement, can you think of a better playing surface?
- Does dropping the ball from a higher starting point cause the ball to bounce more than when it’s dropped from a lower point? Why?
- An adult for assistance
- 3 basketballs: 1 basketball at 8 psi, 1 basketball at 9 psi and 1 basketball at 6 psi (psi = pounds per square inch)
- 1 Air pump
- 1 Pressure gauge
- 1 “Yardstick” style tape measure
- 2 Different surfaces: 1 wood surfac,; 1 concrete surface
- Marker (mark each basketball with the correct psi)
- With the help of an adult, fill each basketball with the suggested pounds per inch (psi) and use the marker to label each basketball.
- On the wooden surface, ask one volunteer to hold the tape measure and ask two other volunteers to stand on each side of tape measure.
- Ask a fourth volunteer to stand in front of the tape measure and drop one basketball in front of the tape measure.
- Ask the volunteers on each side of the tape measure to record the approximate height it bounced. (Example: Basketball #1 = 6 psi and bounced 10 inches high).
- Have the same volunteer who dropped the first basketball continue with the other two basketballs.
- Ask a significantly taller or shorter fifth volunteer to perform the same steps as the fourth volunteer and record the results.
- Repeat steps 2-6 on the cement surface.
- Analyze your data and answer the research questions.
Terms/Concepts: air pressure, surfaces, performance, psi
"Does it matter how much pressure is in a basketball?," Science Projects for Beginners, by Nancy O’Leary and Susan Shelly http://www.infoplease.com/cig/science-fair-projects/matter-much-air-basketball.html
Sports Science Fair Projects: A Great Science Experiment http://www.easy-science-fair-projects.net/sports-science-fair-projects.html
Sports Engineering Science Fair Project, by Julian Trubin (2003-2011) http://www.juliantrubin.com/fairprojects/engineering/sportsengineering.html