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Investigation on how high a squash ball bounces.

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Investigation on how high a squash ball bounces

I am going to investigate the different factors effecting how high a squash ball bounces. The variables that could have an effect are:

  • The height which the ball is dropped from
  • How hard the ball is thrown down
  • The surface the ball land on
  • The mass of the squash ball
  • The temperature of the squash ball
  • The type of material the squash ball is made from

Although all of these variables will have an effect on the results I get, I will only be able to measure the height from which the ball is dropped from and the temperature of the ball. This is because all of the other variables would not produce a suitable graph, for example I could not plot a graph, which says different types of surfaces at the bottom and how high the squash ball bounces at the side. This is because there is no increasing number to the surfaces it would be things like concrete, carpet and wood floor.

While the ball is in your hand it has potential energy. As soon as you let the ball go gravity has a bigger effect on it so it will be pulled down to the ground. The potential energy will then be converted into kinetic energy. Air resistance slows the ball down; this means that the energy is not 100% efficient. If it was the ball would bounce back up to the same height each time.

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My graph which shows me how high the ball bounces when the temperature increases is a steady, straight line. This tells me that as the temperature increases the height the ball bounces also increases. This could effect my results because the ball gets hot the more times it is drop, so the results I do near the end could be higher. The ball should be first dropped at about room temperature, if the temperature increases to 34°C the change in the height of the bounce will be about 5cm. Although, It is not very likely that the temperature will increase by more than 10°C, even if it did I would be able to feel the change.


I predict that the higher the ball is dropped from the higher the ball will bounce. I think that doubling the height in which the ball is dropped from will make how high the ball bounces back up double. This is because when measuring how much potential energy you have got we use the equation: PE= MGH  

Potential energy (J) = Mass (kg) x force due to gravity (n/kg) x height (m)

So if you double the height and the mass and force due to gravity stay the same (which they do) the amount potential energy must double to balance the equation. So, the more potential energy an object has the more kinetic energy it has, making it bounce higher.

There are a lot of energy changes while the ball is falling to the ground, most of the energy is lost due to heat, sound and from the ball changing shape. This is why the ball does not bounce back up to the same height each time.


We will drop the squash ball (weighing 24.2g) from 6 heights, these are: 50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300cm. We will measure these heights by using two meter sticks and a tape measure, these will be placed up a flight of stairs. We will do three experiments for each height and take an average at the end. Using this average we will plot a graph and draw on a line of best fit.

We will drop the ball from the top of the chosen height (so the bottom of the squash ball is over the height) and hold it using test tube holders. This stops any body heat from transferring to the squash ball, making it warmer. The method we are using is not that accurate, so we’ll have to look closely and then point to the nearest height on the meter stick.


Tape measure

Two Meter sticks

1 Squash ball

Test tube holders

Here are my results:

Height dropped from (cm)

How much ball bounced (cm)

Average height
































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100-15= 85

Height ball is dropped from (cm)

Average bounce (cm)



Energy loss



























My results are very accurate, my graph tells me this because they all (apart from one) are very close to the line of best fit. Most of my results agree with my conclusion because as I doubled the height the ball was dropped from the height the ball bounced to doubled (or nearly doubled), apart from the last height (300cm). The height which was taken when the ball was dropped from 250cm was odd, this was probably because we had done 9 previous experiments before this one and the ball got warmer, giving the particles more energy, making it bounce higher. The rubber structure would also have been more spaced out so that it had more strain energy, so that it could bounce higher.

I thought that this method was not very accurate. The main problem we had with it was looking what height the ball actually went up to on the meter stick because it happens quickly. Another problem was trying to keep the ball at the same temperature; this is very hard when you need to keep dropping the ball because you cannot help it when the ball gets warmer.

If I did this experiment again I would use a camera and take a photograph of each height the ball was dropped from, this would make the image still so that it would be easier to read instead of guessing. I would also put the squash ball in water baths to keep the temperature of it the same at all times.

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This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Height and Weight of Pupils and other Mayfield High School investigations section.

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