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What factors affect the bounce of a ball?

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James Spicer, 10W2, Physics coursework, Mrs Collier

What factors affect the bounce of a ball?


I have been asked to see what factors affect the bounce of a ball. These are the variables and how they affect the bounce:

Temperature – can increase the pressure in the ball making the molecules inside the ball

                        move faster, which doesn’t make the ball compress as much on impact.

Material – the harder the material the less compressed the ball gets on impact with the

                 floor but I hollow and holey it gains more air resistance.

Force – the more force put on the ball the more kinetic energy it gains, therefore more

             bounce due to increased pressure.

Surface area – the larger the ball the slower the ball will fall due to increased air

                        resistance (but the mass of the ball makes it go faster, it just depends).

Surface dropped onto – the softer the surface the less bounce because the surface will

                                      deform more stopping the ball from bouncing so high.

Height – the higher the ball is dropped from the more kinetic energy it will gain on the

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Seeing that these results were collected by measuring the bounce on a computer the results are not reliable because of the random selection of heights made by the computer. Also the simulation doesn’t take the force of gravity or air resistance into consideration and this makes it even more unfair. Fortunately, my results were close together so I could use them all in my average, but if any results were too far out I wouldn’t have used them to figure out the average.


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My graph shows that the results had a certain pattern being that they steadily increase as the height of the drop is enlarged and towards the end start to round off. The curve is most probably due to an increase in air resistance because of the increased drop height and would eventually level off more because of this. If I could of I would have done more heights, most probably up to 200cm, just so I could see if the results do level off more as the height is increased.

If given time I would have liked to investigate more of the variables, especially mass and temperature. These would have been difficult to do but would give more reliability to my results.

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