Activity: Ball Bounce Experiment



Many of today’s popular sports are based around the use of a ball, yet none are alike. In fact they are all designed with specific characteristics in mind. Students will investigate different ball’s ability to bounce and represent the data they collect graphically.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY [1 = Least Difficult : 5 = Most Difficult]

5 - most difficult


100 minutes (2 or 3 class periods)


none, if all materials available from physical education department


1.1 Identify materials used to accomplish a design task based on a specific property (i.e. weight, strength, hardness, and flexibility).
2.2 Describe different ways in which a problem can be represented (e.g. sketches, diagrams, graphic organizers, and lists).

How to run an experiment, how to collect data.
How to present data.
How to interpet graphs.
How to graph results.

This lesson would coincide well with math graphing lessons.
Different types of balls bounce differently.

Description of different graph, i.e. line, scatter, bar, pie. Nice example pictures.
Examples of graphs and how to use different types, and how to calculate mean, medium, mode.
Allows children to create graphs and experiment with probability.

Four Different Balls to test: i.e. super ball, tennis ball, basketball, kickball, baseball etc.
1-stopwatch per group
1-yard stick per group
Collect materials and copy worksheets.


1. Explain the 2 tests that will be done to determine the bouncing properties of different balls.
2. Divide the class into groups of 3 students. One student will be the recorder, one will drop the ball, and one will be the timekeeper.
3a. Assign each group a ball. After running both tests on that ball, the group will switch balls (rotate) and test a new ball until all balls have been tested by each group.
3b. Conduct the tests.

TEST 1: BALL BOUNCE HEIGHT COMPARISON - The first time you drop the ball do not take a measurement, just watch were the ball goes so the next time the observer will be prepared where to look. This will help to greatly increase the acuracy of the experiements. Drop a ball from one foot off of the floor, slightly in front of a yardstick. Measure the height the ball reaches after the first bounce and record. Repeat this test from 2 ft, 3 ft, and 1/2 ft. Do this test for each ball and record data. You may have to try more than once to accurately judge the height of the first bounce.

TEST 2: BALL BOUNCE TIME COMPARISON - Drop a ball from a height of 3 ft, timing from when the ball is released until the ball stops bouncing. Record the time. Repeat this test for each ball. Talk with the students about coming up with a system for releasing the ball and starting the stop watch. Possible suggestions are to have the same student drop the ball and start the watch, or have the two studnets count down form 5.

5. Graph group results. (if this activity is not able to be accompanied by a math lesson on graphing you can introduce the topic before the activity starts or perhaps after the class has recorded all of its data and worked through it as a group.)
6. Compare results as a class.

Could you play basketball with a superball?
Do smaller balls bounce higher?
Do heavier balls bounce higher?
Why are your results different from other groups results?
Why do some balls bounce higher than others?
What other tests can you perform with the balls?
Why is the design of a ball important?


See Associated Download.


See Associated Download.