How to measure how much Air Pressure is in a basketball

AFTER you've done your research and concluded your experiments, it is time to prepare for the science fair. Ask specific questions about preparing for a science fair, including how to set up your display board, how to prepare a presentation, etc. (Please post questions about selecting a project or conducting your experiment by posting in the appropriate "area of science" forum.)

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How to measure how much Air Pressure is in a basketball

Postby Ryan Minhas » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:56 pm

I need to know the max air pressure you can pump in a basketball. I dont know how to reach a gauge yet.
Ryan Minhas
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Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:44 pm
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Project Question: How do i tell how much air the basketball can take without it blowing up on my science experiment?
Project Due Date: Feb,5,2013 Tommorow
Project Status: I am conducting my experiment

Re: How to measure how much Air Pressure is in a basketball

Postby theborg » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:42 pm

Ryan Minhas,

Welcome the science buddies and thank you for your question. This is a tricky question. Different manufacturers sell balls of various sizes and materials. These factors will determine How many pounds per square inch (PSI) you can inflate a basketball before it fails. Spalding makes the game balls for the NBA and uses a rubber bladder wrapped in fiber with a leather outer casing (this is the part you see), and has a 29.5 in circumference. Regulation pressure for NBA games is between 7.5 and 8.5 psi. I have never inflated one to failure, but I would expect all these layers to make the ball quite strong. Even so, i've found a couple references that suggest failure may occur somewhere around 80 psi.

I'm not sure what you mean by "I don't know how to reach a gauge yet." Please explain.

If you decide to try this, remember, the effects can be...well...explosive! Make sure you have adult supervision, everyone has proper eye and hearing protection, and you remain well out of the "blast" area or have a cover. You will need a pump with an inline pressure gage either manual or automatic. I suggest filming the gage while the ball inflates then you will be able to analyze the video to determine the psi at the moment the ball explodes.
I hope this helps.

"As the circle of light increases, so does the circumference of darkness around it."
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Project Question: "To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man. 'Tis much better to do a little with certainty and leave the rest for others that come after you, than to explain all things by conjecture without making sure of anything." - Sir Isaac Newton
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