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Investigating the Bouncing of a Ball.

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AS Level

Physics Coursework

  • Investigating the Bouncing of a Ball

Sarah Tayler

In this investigation, a basketball was dropped from a certain height (2.24m), and its displacement was measured over a short period of time (approximately 5 seconds) using an ultrasound distance sensor which was fixed directly above. The basketball weighed 602g and had a diameter of 24.2 cm. The sampled data was recorded and used to plot various graphs.

Table of Data (1,2):

The recorded data is shown in the table, along with the displacement from the ground, velocity, acceleration, gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy and total energy. Although 99 samples were taken altogether, the last 8 have been discarded as the readings after that point became erratic.

Displacement/Time graph (3):

This graph shows the displacement of the basketball from the sensor. Each separate bounce is clear to see.

Displacement/Time graph (4):

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2. Some of the peaks on this graph (where the ball hits the ground) are ‘split in two’. If there was a higher sampling rate, all of the peaks would be split like this, and the split would extend all the way to 0. However, during the actual bounce, the ball is only at 0m/s for an immeasurably short time. Therefore, if samples are taken either side of this point when the ball is travelling at its fastest, it can give the appearance that the ball never slows down when it hits the ground.

Total Energy/Time graph (9):

This graph shows the total energy of the ball. It can be worked out by adding the GPE and KE together. The only time when this does not work

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         = 2.18526J

Percentage of energy lost        = 29.204%

3rd to 4th: change in GPE        = 5.2976 - 3.89494

                                = 1.40266J

Percentage of energy lost        = 26.477%

It is apparent that the same proportion of energy is lost on each bounce, approximately 28%.


...read more.

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