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Plan and execute an investigation into the energy changes of a table tennis ball in terms of the energy changes that occurs when it bounces on a rigid surface.

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Andrew Dhushantha

Physics Coursework

 Planning Experimental Procedures and Obtaining Evidence


        To plan and execute an investigation into the energy changes of a table tennis ball in terms of the energy changes that occurs when it bounces on a rigid surface.


        To conduct this experiment the following equipment will be required:  two-metre rule, clamp, boss, stand, and ping-pong ball.


(DIAGRAM)  - cant email diagrams – too much bytes


First of all the equipment is assembled as shown in the diagram above. The ping-pong ball is dropped from two metres above the ground. It is dropped from here, as this is where air resistance starts to be tested, I know this through the result of my pliminary experiment. When dropping the ball the first time you must be careful to measure exactly two metres from ground level. When dropping the ball from two metres, the bottom of the ball must be at two metres above the ground. You must look at the bottom of the ball with your eyes being at the same level as the bottom of the ball. This is done to obtain very accurate results.

        Next drop the ball from the desired height, first record the general height of the bounce of the ball.

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Quality of ballSize of ballWeight of ball

Out of all these variables I chose to vary the height of the drop, because this was the easiest factor to vary.

        As the ball is dropped higher from the ground the ball will become less efficient as it loses more energy to air resistance. Yet eventually the ball will reach its terminal velocity. The ball will also lose more heat on impact with the surface when dropped further away from the ground. Wit this information we would expect a graph with slight curve downwards towards the axis of drop height, as we get closer to 0mm away from the ground.



Preliminary Experiment:

        I conducted a preliminary experiment in order to get a rough idea of when air resistance has considerable affects on the ping-pong ball. In my preliminary experiment I got a ping-pong ball and a golf ball, I then dropped them together, from different heights until I could hear two different bounces, i.e. the balls hit the ground at different times. The heavier golf ball would be less susceptible to air resistance than the lighter, less dense ping-pong ball. I needed reasonably accurate results to help me with my proper experiment.

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        When recording the height of the ball, results could have been more accurate. For example, a video camera could be used so that it could be played at slow motion and the very accurate result could be recorded. Wider rulers could be used so that even if the ball is dropped to the side, the proper measurement can clearly be seen.

        Some further work could be conducted for this experiment. The ball can be tested to see if it can reach terminal velocity. This would mean dropping the ping-pong ball from very high places, for example, the top of a building. A ruler can be painted vertically up the building so that when the ball bounces, a camera can be used to record the bounce of the ball. This recording can then be slowed down so that a more accurate reading can be obtained. This might not be very practical though because the wind may blow the ball away, so the experiment could be conducted in a very calm day.

        When the ball bounces up, does air resistance still affect it? This could be found out by seeing how efficient a ball is when dropping from 1 metre. Then its efficiency can be measured when it bounces up to 1 metre and then drops and bounces back up. This will tell us if the ball loses energy when bouncing upwards.

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