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How does the bounciness of a golf ball affect the distance that it will travel?Featured science projectScience project video

Abstract

This science fair project was performed to find out if relatively bouncier golf balls are able to travel further than less bouncy ones. The tests were done using 3 brands of golf balls.

Hypothesis

Bouncier golf balls will be able to travel further  than the less bouncy  ones.

Scientific Terms

compressed energy, potential energy, kinetic energy

Background

Why do balls bounce?

Balls are able to bounce as a result of the compression of air inside the ball. When a ball is raised above the ground, a ball gains potential energy. Releasing the ball from the raised position will result in the ball falling to the ground because of the gravitational pull of the Earth on the ball. The ball will accelerate and gain velocity.

As the ball falls to the ground,  its potential energy is gradually  reduced as it is converted into kinetic energy. As it approaches the ground, almost all of its potential energy would have been converted into kinetic energy.  When the ball hits the ground, it will be compressed  against the floor, and its initially round shape  will become slightly altered (deformed). This will cause the air inside the ball to become compressed. The kinetic energy  that the ball now has is  momentarily stored in the air inside the ball as compressed (potential) energy. As the ball returns to its regular round shape, the compressed energy is again converted into kinetic energy, causing the ball to  rebound upwards . As it  rises, the kinetic energy is once more converted into potential energy. As the ball continues bouncing up and down, energy is gradually lost through friction between the surface of the ball and the air around it, friction of the air inside the ball due to the compression, and friction between the rubber molecules of the ball. This energy will be lost in the form of heat energy and the maximum bounce height reached by  the ball will gradually  decrease, with each bounce.
 

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Complexity level:
7
Project cost ($):
40
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 4 hours for experiment
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Never stand anywhere in front of a golfer who's about to take  a swing. Beware of swinging clubs - which can cause severe injury