Measuring the Bounciness of Balls

Many thanks to Kristen Chauncey for sharing this technique with us.  We co-taught the students working on this project. 

Kyle and Howard tested the "bounciness" of 3 balls.  They chose a tennis ball, a soccer ball, and an exercise ball.

Question

Which  ball will bounce the highest, a tennis ball, an exercise ball, or a soccer ball? 

Hypothesis 

The exercise ball will bounce the highest.

Materials: 

  • Poster Paint
  • Butcher Paper
  • Tennis ball
  • Soccer ball
  • Exercise ball 
  • Sponge brushes to apply paint

Procedure: 

  1. Tape the butcher paper along the floor and up the wall so that when the ball bounces the paint will stay on the wall at the spot where the ball hits. (See picture.)
  2. Paint each of the balls with poster paint in a circle around the ball so that you can hold the ball on both sides to bounce it.
  3. Stand 1 meter from the wall. Measure this distance using a meterstick.
  4. Bounce each ball toward the wall without using any of your own force.
  5. Record the results by measuring the distance from the ground to the paint on the butcher paper. Students will be able to feel the paint.

Results

Height balls bounced:

  • soccer ball: 62 cm
  • tennis ball:  41 cm
  • exercise ball: 65 cm

The excercise ball bounced the highest.  Our hypothesis was correct. 

A bar graph of the results.

Variations: 

This experiment could be conducted using other types of round balls.

NGSS Standards: 

Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly. (HS-ESS2-5)

Collage of measuring bounciness of balls