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Energy absorbed by a bouncing ball.

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Physics Coursework Energy Absorbed by a Bouncing Ball Aim My aim is to find out whether there is a relationship between the energy absorbed by a bouncing ball and its initial height that it was dropped from. I hope to be able to answer the following question: 'Does the initial height of the ball determine how much energy is absorbed in each bounce?' Introduction When plane designers are designing a plane they have to carry out in depth research into each feature of the plane, the materials to be made from and whether it would withstand the immense pressures in the air. A very important area that they have to look at carefully is the wheels of the plane. The wheels will have to be made out of a material that is really strong so that they can withstand the friction and weight of the plane when landing and taking off. When the wheels touch the ground when landing they must be able to absorb lots of energy for the plane to begin to slow down. One way in which I am going to model measuring the energy absorbed by a plane wheel is by using a ball and dropping it from various heights to measure the energy absorbed. Although I will not be able to carry out the experiment at great heights, like in a plane, I hope to be able to model the idea in the classroom. I will do this by using different balls at various heights each representing a different material. I will be using a ball to represent the wheel as this is the nearest representation that I could thin of that I could use to carry out my experiments. Theory When a ball is dropped from a height, its potential energy, PE, is converted into kinetic energy, KE. When the ball collides with a surface, some of its energy is used to deform the ball and is eventually converted into heat energy. ...read more.


I am recording the value of the mass of the ball because I will need it later when working calculating the value of potential and kinetic energy. I will lift up the tennis ball to the first initial height, 1metre. I will drop the ball and then record the rebound height by reading of the appropriate value on the metre ruler. When trying to read off the rebound height on the metre ruler I did find it hard to read off an exact value because the ball will only be at the highest position for a split second. To come over this I tried to think of an alternative method of reading off the height. With some though I decided to continue carrying out the experiment how I intended but in addition I will use a video camera and a piece of squared/graph paper. I will use the video camera to record the experiment so that later I can replay the video tape in slow motion and therefore read off the correct, accurate value of the rebound height. To squared paper will be used as a background against the metre ruler so that I can mark the highest point on the paper where the ball bounced and then read along to the appropriate height on the metre ruler. By using the video camera and the squared paper as a guideline, hopefully I will be able to read off accurate values of the rebound height. Once I have recorded this accurate value of the rebound height, I will then continue to carry out the experiment in the same way but changing the starting height of the tennis ball. I will record results up to 1 metre every 10cm. Looking at my results I then decided to get a few more recordings by taking readings up to 1.5 metres. I decided to do this so that I had a good range of results to plot on my graph and to make conclusions from. ...read more.


Perhaps I could do this by placing the ball onto a ledge and then using a release mechanism to remove the ledge so that the ball will fall from the exact height. I could also look at the effect of using a different surface that the ball will bounce on. This may improve my results if I find a surface that the balls will bounce on really well. I could also investigate the effect of the initial height on the surface area of contact of the ball on each bounce. I think that I could also look to see what effect the pressure inside the ball has on the fraction of energy absorbed by the balls and the rebound height of the ball. I think that the results that I obtained are fairly reliable because they show the general relationship between the data. Also, I think that they are reliable because I have no major anomalies. Those anomalies that I do have, I have commented on and tried to explain why they occurred. I think that another reason for the anomalies, apart from those already mentioned in my analysis is how the ball fell to the ground. How could I make sure that the ball did fall to the ground straight and not at an angle? This could have been a limiting factor of the experiment. Other limitations are to do with the precision of the equipment. Although I thought that a metre ruler would be accurate enough for my results, I think that if I was able to take more accurate readings then I could improve the overall reliability of the results as the results and calculations will be more accurate. Although my results are not as accurate as they could have been, I think that I have still been able to show that there is a relationship between the initial height and the rebound height, as well as the fraction of energy absorbed by the ball as it hit the ground. I have therefore been able to answer my question that I set myself at the beginning of the experiment. ...read more.

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