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Others Like “The Science of Spin: A Baseball Pendulum”

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Science Fair Project Idea
The rebound rating is the ratio of the height the ball bounces to, divided by the height the ball was dropped from. Use the rebound rating to measure the bounciness of new tennis balls vs. balls that have been used for 10, 20, 50, and 100 games. Another idea to explore: does it matter what type of court the ball is used on? (See: Goodstein, 1999, 63-64.) Read more
Sports_p039
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Place a desk chair (one that rotates easily on ball bearings) in the center of the room, away from any obstructions. Put your hands on your lap and have a helper give you a push to start you rotating. You'll need to quantify the results somehow. For example, your helper could measure the number of revolutions you make in 5 seconds. Now try extending your arms after your helper starts you spinning. Next, start with your arms out, and bring them in close to your body after you start… Read more
Sports_p041
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Imagine a symmetrical grid of nine points superimposed over the ball. Kicking the ball squarely on the center point imparts no spin, but kicking on any of the other points will impart spin on the ball. How will the resulting spin affect the trajectory of the ball for each of the 8 outer grid points? Kicking the ball with a sliding motion of the foot is another way to impart spin. Once you've made your predictions, you can set up to test them with a soccer ball, video camera and a tape… Read more
Sports_p031
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Use a video camera to analyze the angle of lift with different clubs. Measure the distance the ball travels. Be sure to conduct a sufficient number of trials with each club so that your results are consistent. This can also be a great way to work on your swing! (Idea from Goodstein, 1999, 83-85.) Read more
Sports_p029
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Science Fair 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)
Science Fair Project Idea
Many sports skills require quick reaction times: think of hitting a 95-mph fastball, returning a 100-mph tennis serve, or blocking a slapshot at the net in hockey. (The Experimental Procedure section below has one way to measure reaction time.) Is your right hand faster than your left? Can you improve your reaction time with practice? Do both hands improve if you only practice with one hand? Try relating your reaction time to real situations in your favorite sport. For example, calculate… Read more
HumBio_p005
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Tennis racquets, baseball bats and golf clubs all vibrate when they hit the ball. You can often feel it in your hands, particularly if you "mis-hit" the ball. You can find the point(s) on your racquet, bat or club—called the "sweet spot"—that minimize unwanted vibrations. Low-tech method: hang the racquet or bat straight up and down with a string from its handle. Lightly hold the handle with your thumb and forefinger and have a helper sharply tap the bat, strings or club face… Read more
Sports_p033
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
How much force can a rubber band withstand before breaking? Do rubber bands that stretch longer take more or less force to break? How does the elasticity of a rubber band change with temperature? Use a spring scale to measure the applied force, and a meter stick or ruler to measure the change in length. Recording with a video camera (or possibly two) can help you to capture the values at the moment before the rubber band breaks. You can change the temperature of the rubber bands using… Read more
ApMech_p033
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
There are three different kinds of polymers used for kitchen plastic wrap: low density polyethylene (LDPE) (e.g., Handiwrap or Glad Wrap), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (e.g., Reynolds PVC Foodservice Wrap or Boardwalk PVC Food Wrap Film) and polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC) (e.g., Saran Wrap, which is almost 90% polyvinylidene chloride). Which of these materials is least permeable to water vapor? Or, in other words, which of these materials will best prevent evaporation? Do background research on… Read more
Chem_p032
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Material Availability Some types of plastic wraps may need to be specially ordered. Various PVC wraps are available through [# Link Name="Chem_p032.1" Value="HtmlAnchor" #].
Science Fair Project Idea
This project can apply to soccer, hockey, baseball and many other sports. What is the effect of stopping the kick/shot/swing at the moment of impact vs. following through? Think of a way to measure the outcome in each case, and explain your results. (idea from Gardner, 2000, 83-85; for more information with regard to specific sports, see: Barr, 1990, 12-14; Gay, 2004, 142-144; Adair, 2002, 30.) Read more
Sports_p034
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
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