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Others Like “The Science of Spin: How Does Spin Affect the Trajectory of a Kicked Soccer Ball?”

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Science Fair Project Idea
Think of hitting a baseball, heading a soccer ball into the net, or hitting a tennis ball with a racquet. Where the ball goes depends on...what? You can set up a simple model to start your investigation. You'll need a marble, a flat piece of wood, a flat piece of cardboard, a pencil, a ruler, a protractor, and a level surface. Lay down the cardboard down on a level surface and set up the flat piece of wood at one edge. The wood will act like a wall, and you're going to roll the marble at… Read more
Sports_p040
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Science Fair Project Idea
For example, think of hitting a baseball, heading a soccer ball into the net, or hitting a tennis ball with a racquet. Where the ball goes depends on...what? You can set up a simple model to start your investigation. You'll need a marble, a flat piece of wood, a flat piece of cardboard, a pencil, a ruler, a protractor, and a level surface. Lay down the cardboard down on a level surface and set up the flat piece of wood at one edge. The wood will act like a wall, and you're going to roll… Read more
Phys_p039
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
For this project, you'll use a baseball as a pendulum weight, studying the motion of the ball with and without spin. Wrap a rubber band around the ball, and tie a string to the rubber band. Fasten the string so that the ball hangs down and can swing freely. Mark a regular grid on cardboard, and place it directly beneath the ball to measure the motion. You can also time the oscillations with a stopwatch. Lift the ball along one of the grid axes, and let it go. Observe the motion and record… Read more
Sports_p022
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
When the punter is trying to hit the "coffin corner" (within the opposing team's 10-yard line), out of bounds, what is the best angle to kick the ball for correct distance and maximum "hang time?" (For more information on the physics involved, see: Gay, 2004, Chapters 4 and 5.) Read more
Sports_p027
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
When the punter is trying to hit the "coffin corner" (within the opposing team's 10-yard line), out of bounds, what is the best angle to kick the ball for correct distance and maximum "hang time?" (For more information on the physics involved, see: Gay, 2004, Chapters 4 and 5.) Read more
Phys_p044
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Block off one-third of a soccer net with a cone, 5-gallon bucket or some other suitable object. Shoot into the smaller side from a set distance, but systematically varying the angle to the goal line. Take enough shots at each angle to get a reliable sample. How does success vary with angle? 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… Read more
Sports_p030
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
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)
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever seen a "Hail Mary" football pass, where the quarterback tries to throw the ball as far as possible to reach the end zone and score a touchdown? Or a last second game tying soccer goal from midfield? How far the ball will go does not just depend on how hard a player throws or kicks it; it also depends on the angle at which the player launches the ball. In this sports science project, you will investigate how launch angle affects the distance that a ball travels by filming… Read more
Sports_p036
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This science project requires a computer with internet access and a digital video camera with a tripod. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Be sure to do this science project in an open area like an empty football field, where you will not hit people or buildings with the ball.
Science Fair Project Idea
How high can you throw different types of balls, like a golf ball, a basketball, and a football? Would one of them go higher than the others? Do factors like mass, shape, and volume influence the final height? You can measure the approximate maximum height a thrown ball reaches by measuring the time it spends in the air. To do this project, you'll need at least one ball and a helper with a stopwatch. Your helper should start timing just as you release the ball, and stop right when the ball… Read more
Sports_p035
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
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
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