Science Projects on a Golf Ball's Bounce

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The surface of a golf ball is one variable that can affect bounce.
The surface of a golf ball is one variable that can affect bounce.

Science is a part of our everyday lives. Innovative science educators draw on student interests to create science activities that are engaging and relevant. Science projects that experiment with the physics involved in a golf ball's bounce provide students with the opportunity to test their science experiment skills and science knowledge in an activity that yields useful and relevant results.

  1. Ball Comparison

    • A basic comparison of the various bouncing abilities of several kinds of balls allows students to compare the bouncing properties of a golf ball to the properties of other balls. Provide groups of students with several kinds of balls; a golf ball, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis ball, rubber ball, soccer ball and volleyball are all possible ball types. Each group is responsible for setting up a measuring system using yardsticks or a tape measure; students tape the measuring tool to a wall so that when a ball is dropped from a designated height, they are able to determine how high the ball bounces. For more advanced classes with greater access to resources, students may set up a high-speed camera to record bounces for greater measuring accuracy. One group member drops the first type of ball from a designated height. Other group members observe the ball's bounce and estimate the height. Repeat for each kind of ball. After the experiment, students compare the physical properties of the balls that bounced the highest; if possible, students can dissect the balls to investigate the inner materials. Students should determine which qualities the balls with the highest bounce share and analyze how such qualities create such significant bounce abilities. After the comparison, students develop an optimal design for a golf ball that would create the greatest bounce. Have students present their golf ball designs to the class.

    Types of Golf Balls

    • The two main golf ball designs are two-piece balls and three-piece balls. Provide students with two samples of each type. Students must first identify the differences between the types; assist students in cutting the golf balls down the center to reveal the inside of the balls. Assist students in slicing the balls open with an Exacto knife, or provide students with pre-cut balls after slicing them with a small saw.

      After students have identified that two-piece balls are made of an outer coating and a rubber inner ball while three-piece balls are made of an outer coating with two internal layers, the groups should test the bounce qualities of each type of ball. Use a similar method as the one described in the "Ball Comparison" activity. Students should record several bounces to garner the most accurate measurements. After the experiment, student groups should recommend the golf ball with the most consistently higher bounce ability.

    Types of Ground Surfaces

    • A golf ball's bounce is largely affected by the type of material the ball is striking as it lands. Though all professional golf courses use grass, the variety of grass is determined by the specific climate of the golf course location. Design an experiment in which groups of students test the effect of different types of surfaces on a golf ball's bounce. Set up a measuring system like the one described in the Ball Comparison experiment. Provide student groups with several 1 ft. squares of different types of grass and surfaces; include squares of Bermuda grass, bluegrass, bentgrass, wheat grass or artificial turf. Each group tests the bounce reaction of the golf ball on each type of grass. Students then decide which type of grass is ideal for different areas of the golf course including tee areas, roughs and fairways.

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  • Photo Credit golf ball image by Franc PodgorÅ¡ek from Fotolia.com

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