Bouncing Balls Science Coursework

Gcse science coursework bouncing balls

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Gcse science coursework bouncing balls

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Many sports use a ball in some way or another. We throw them, dribble them, hit them, kick them, and they always bounce back! What makes a ball so bouncy? In this experiment you can investigate the effect of air pressure on ball bouncing.


In this experiment you will test if air pressure will affect the dynamics of ball bouncing.


Sara Agee, Ph.D., Science Buddies

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Science Buddies Staff. "Under Pressure: Ball Bouncing Dynamics" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 28 July 2017. Web. 14 Mar. 2018 <>

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Last edit date: 2017-07-28

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Bouncing is what makes playing with a ball so much fun. But what makes a ball bounce? If you were to see a ball drop to the ground in slow motion, you would see its shape change dramatically. When it hits the ground, the bottom of the ball becomes flat against the floor. Then when it bounces up, it returns to its original shape. The changes in shape are due to a balance of forces and energy:

"When you drop a ball, gravity pulls it toward the floor. The ball gains energy of motion, known as kinetic energy. When the ball hits the floor and stops, that energy has to go somewhere. The energy goes into deforming the ball-- from its original round shape to a squashed shape. When the ball deforms, its molecules are stretched apart in some places and squeezed together in others. As they are pushed about, the molecules in the ball collide with and rub across each other." (Doherty, 1991)

In this experiment you will use a ball filled with air. When it is dropped, the air molecules will squish together and then spring apart. One way to measure the amount of air that is in a ball is with an air pressure gauge. You will use an air pump, a basketball, and an air pressure gauge to test if changing the air pressure will change the bounciness of the ball.

Terms and Concepts

  • air pressure
  • forces
  • energy
  • motion
  • gravity


  • How high will a ball bounce?
  • Will the air pressure change the bounciness of a ball?
  • How can you measure the height a ball bounces?


  • Doherty, P., 1991. "That's The Way The Ball Bounces," The Exploratorium Museum, San Francisco, CA. [accessed August 4, 2006]
  • Here is another activity that tests temperature and bounce using golf balls and baseballs:
    Exploratorium Staff, 1998. "Science Activity: Bouncing Balls," The Exploratorium Museum, San Francisco, CA. [accessed August 4, 2006]
  • There are many other great ball projects in this fun book:
    Goodstein, M., 1999. Sports Science Projects: The Physics of Balls in Motion. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

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