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March Madness Basketball Science Projects

As college basketball prepares for the March Madness spring championship, students can investigate basketball science and the math and physics behind hoops success.

Three basketball experiment images, hands holding basketball, basketball with a heat source, and mini basketball with model court to reprent Basketball Sports Science Projects

March Madness Sports Science

Great hands-on sports science projects help students explore science, physics, and math principles at work in the sports they love to play and watch. When it comes to basketball and March Madness, students can bounce through physics experiments related to dribbling, the trajectory of a basketball shot, the angles involved in successful bank shots, and more.

March Madness is a single-elimination tournament for NCAA Division I basketball teams. Sixty-eight teams will ultimately be reduced to the Sweet Sixteen and then again to the Final Four before the final playoff game.

Basketball and Court Science Experiments

Students who love basketball can hit the courts with these hands-on sports science experiments and science fair projects:

  • Under Pressure: Ball Bouncing Dynamics: If you drop a ball, how high will it bounce? What happens to the height of the bounce if you release some air from the ball? How does the bounce height of different types of balls compare? In this science project, students investigate the relationship between air pressure and how a ball bounces.
  • Bouncing Basketballs: How Much Energy Does Dribbling Take?: Does dribbling on the sidewalk or at the local park court feel different than dribbling in an indoor gymnasium? Why? In this hands-on science project, students experiment to find out how different surfaces affect how a ball bounces. Does it take more force to dribble on certain surfaces than others to keep the ball under control?
  • Basketball: Will You Bank the Shot?: In this sports science experiment, students use recycled and craft materials to build a scale model basketball court and then use a mini basketball to investigate how bank shots perform from different spots on the court.
  • Basketball Physics: Where Does a Bouncing Ball's Energy Go?: When a player dribbles a basketball, what happens to the energy of the ball? In this sports science investigation, students experiment to find out if there is a relationship between dribbling and heat energy. (Tip! For other lessons and experiments about types of energy, see 26 Science Projects and Experiments To Teach About Types of Energy.)
  • Nothing But Net: The Science of Shooting Hoops: To increase the chances of scoring, players want to use the best shooting technique and form. Does science hold any clues about where you should begin a shot for the best chance of making it? In this science project, students experiment to see if starting with the ball at chest height, chin height, or over the head makes a difference in the percentage of successful shots.
  • Basketball: The Geometry of Banking a Basket: Is a bank shot always a smart choice? In this science project, students apply math and geometry to predict the chances of making a bank shot from various spots on the court. After doing this project and coming up with a set of "best chance" shot locations for a bank shot, students can keep tracking during games and see how their predictions match up to actual shots made (or missed).

More Sports Science Projects

For other sports science connections, see the following STEM collections for student science projects and science fair:

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Free science fair projects.