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Others Like “Nothing But Net: The Science of Shooting Hoops”

Project Idea
Take shots at a set distance from the basket, but systematically vary the angle to the backboard. For a basic project: How do you think your success rate will vary with angle? Draw a conclusion from your experimental results. A bar graph showing success rate at different angles can help to illustrate your conclusion. For a more advanced project: Use your knowledge of geometry and basketball to come up with a mathematical expression to predict your success rate as a function of angle… Read more
Math_p037
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
thumbnail If you were in a raiding army in the Middle Ages, a catapult would come in mighty handy for taking down castle walls. But only if you could aim it reliably! With this science project, you will try your hand at catapult technology. Using a rubber-band-powered catapult you will send ping pong balls flying through the air. The catapult's design makes it easy to measure and repeat how hard the ball is launched and its direction, so you can find the right catapult settings to hit the target reliably. Read more
ApMech_p008
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability A catapult kit is needed; see the Materials tab for details.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Do not aim the catapult at breakable objects or people; minor injury possible.
Project Idea
thumbnail When watching a football game, have you ever wondered why some kicks lead to a successful field goal and others do not? There are a lot of variables at play in a game of football, and many of them are related to physics. One variable that can affect whether a field goal is successful is distance. In this science project, you will explore how field goal success rate is affected by distance from the goalposts. What will be the best distance for you to kick some field goals? Grab a football, head… Read more
Sports_p026
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Access to a football field with goalposts is required. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Be sure to warm up and stretch before making a lot of football kicks.
Project Idea
thumbnail If you have ever tried to hit a target (such as a trash can) with a wad of paper, you know that aim is everything. But it is not always easy to get it right every time! Missing is not that big a deal with a wad of paper, but what if you were in an invading army in the Middle Ages, using a catapult to hurl huge stones and knock down castle walls? For a successful invasion, it would be important to know exactly how far, and how reliably, a catapult could launch a projectile. In this project you… Read more
Math_p046
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites An introductory-level understanding of statistics (mean, standard deviation, and the normal distribution) is helpful, but not required for completing this project.
Material Availability Requires catapult kit. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Average ($40 - $80)
Safety Do not aim the catapult at people or breakable objects; minor injury possible.
Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever played paintball with your friends? Wonder how you can improve your game? Paintball guns use compressed gas to shoot paint-filled pellets at high speed, and with good accuracy. The flight path of the ball is determined by its speed and the angle at which it is shot, relative to the ground. In this sports science fair project, you will explore the ballistics of paintballs, focusing on how drag and other factors affect the results. Read more
Sports_p054
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites You should have access to a paintball gun, be familiar with how to shoot it safely, and have access to an open area where you can shoot it. This project has a fairly involved procedure, since you are measuring several parameters (velocity, time of flight, distance) and also comparing these measurements to what you would expect based on calculations. Feel free to customize the procedure based on your interests.
Material Availability Specialty items: You will need access to a paintball gun and accessories, including safety gear for you and for three helpers, as well as an instrument to measure velocity of the paintballs. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Minor injury is possible, so wear eye protection. Adult supervision is required.
Project Idea
thumbnail Planning on getting a new puppy soon? Why not use some of your play time with puppy to study growth rates and puppy development? You can easily chart a young puppy's weekly weight and growth over several months to compare how quickly body dimensions and bone lengths change. While this project may take some time, it's well worth the effort. You might be amazed at the dramatic growth of your "canine kid," and what other project combines science with as much fun, or a more adorable subject? Read more
MamBio_p018
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Comfortable with and access to a puppy 7–10 weeks old
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No hazards
Project Idea
thumbnail In baseball, coaches use hit charts to track the results of every hit each player makes, giving a measure of the player's performance. Have you ever wondered what things affect where a baseball goes when a player hits it with a bat? In this project you will set up an experiment to hit a ping pong ball in a controlled manner using a toy catapult, then learn about the physics of baseball by making your own hit chart. Read more
Sports_p060
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites To do this project, you should understand what a coordinate system is and know how to make a simple scatter plot.
Material Availability This science project requires a kit available from the Science Buddies store. See the Materials and Equipment list for details. Estimated project time includes shipping.
Cost Average ($40 - $80)
Safety Never launch projectiles at people or animals. Be careful not to get your fingers caught in the moving parts of the catapult.
Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever noticed that when you drop a basketball, its bounce does not reach the height you dropped it from? Why is that? When a basketball bounces, such as on a basketball court, its bounce actually loses momentum by transferring energy elsewhere. This means that to dribble the basketball, players must continually replace the transferred energy by pushing down on the ball. But what happens to the "lost" energy? As we know from physics, energy is not really lost, it just changes form. One… Read more
Sports_p038
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites Must be able to dribble a basketball 100 times in a row quickly.
Material Availability An infrared thermometer is required to do this science project. See the Materials and Equipment list for details on where to buy one.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever wondered why golf balls have a pattern of dimples on their surface? The dimples are important for determining how air flows around the ball when it is in flight. The dimple pattern, combined with the spin imparted to the ball when hit by the club, greatly influence the ball's flight path. For example, backspin generates lift, prolonging flight. When the ball is not hit squarely with the club, varying degrees of sidespin are imparted to the ball. A clockwise sidespin (viewed from… Read more
Sports_p012
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites To do this experiment you must have sufficient golf experience to swing a golf club consistently and have access to golf clubs.
Material Availability Specialty items
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail Did you know that throwing, kicking, and punting a football all involve the science of projectile motion? A star NFL® quarterback, kicker, and punter each need to have a very good understanding of how a football moves through the air in order to help them win games. In this science project, you will set up a rubber band-powered catapult to represent a field goal kicker, and study how changing the distance from the goalposts affects how hard it is to accurately kick a field goal. Read more
Sports_p059
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This science project requires a kit available from the Science Buddies store. See the Materials and Equipment list for details. Estimated project time includes shipping.
Cost Average ($40 - $80)
Safety Never launch projectiles at people, animals, or anything fragile. Be careful not to get your fingers caught in moving parts of the catapult.
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