Year 10 Science - Surface Affect On Bounce Height - Science - Assingment

956 words - 4 pages

Major Open Ended Investigation – Ryan Lasek
The effects of different surfaces on the bounce height of a ping pong ball
Introduction: When playing ping pong, predicting how the ball will bounce is essential for
success. Different ping pong tables have slightly different surfaces which can affect the bounce of a
ball. This experiment investigates further into how different surfaces change the bounce of a ping
pong ball. Background research states that “soft surfaces absorb kinetic energy, while hard surfaces
give it back” (Adam McGregor 2013). “The more energy absorbed by the surface, the less that
remains in the ball for it to bounce” (Scientific American 2014).
Aim: The aim is to investigate how different surfaces affect the bounce height of a ping pong ball.
Hypothesis: The hardest surface will result in the highest bounce.
1. Place plastic crates on the floor next to each other with
space in-between and close to a wall. Place surface being
tested on top of crates. Tape ruler parallel to wall and
perpendicular to surface. 0cm should be aligned with the top
of the surface. Apparatus shown in figure 1.1.
2. Take basic safety precaution including, do not swallow the
ball and handle surfaces with care (particularly the heavier
3. Set up camera facing ruler. Start recording video.
4. Hold the ping pong ball against the ruler at a height of one
metre above of the surface. This variable must be controlled.
Let go of the ball without applying force. Repeat this 4 more
5. Stop video recording. Replace surface (independent variable) and adjust ruler height.
6. Repeat steps 2 – 4 for all surfaces.
7. Analyse video footage frame-by-frame using computer and record result (in metres) of
highest point at which each ball bounces (dependent variable).
• 2 X Plastic Crates
• Ceramic Surface
• Wood Surface
• Sand Surface
• Foam Surface
• Aluminium Surface
• Steel Surface
• Ping pong ball
• 1 Meter Ruler
• Video Camera
• Tripod
• Computer
• Tape
• Plastic Container
Figure 1.1
Major Open Ended Investigation – Ryan Lasek
59.8 60.6
Average Bounce Height of Ping Pong Ball
by Surface (metres)
Aluminium Foam River Sand Steel Ceramic Wood
Photo Averages:
Surface 1st Drop 2nd Drop 3rd Drop 4th Drop 5th Drop Average
Aluminium 63m 65m 62m 65m 65m 64m
Foam 4m 4m 3.5m 3m 3.5m 3.6m
River Sand 0m 0m 0m 0m 0m 0m
Steel 62m 66m 65.5m 67.5m 67m 65.6m
Ceramic 58m 61m 61m 58m 61m 59.8m
Wood 60.5m 59m 65m 60m 58.5m 60.6m
Major Open Ended Investigation – Ryan Lasek
Additional Photos:
Major Open Ended Investigation – Ryan Lasek
The results of the experiment show that different surfaces affect the bounce height of a ping
pong ball. The hypothesis is supported as the highest bounce was from the hardest surface (steel).
A problem encountered was how high the tripod should be set at. The difference in angle of the
camera lens to where the ball was bouncing may have created a parallax error in recorded results.
As noticeable in the photos, many of the ball bounces were slightly aside to the left. This should
be improved and fixed in future experiments.
Another improvement is to establish an objective measuring system for a surfaces ‘hardness’ as
opposed to subjective judgement and observation.
The size and surface area of each of the surfaces varied. Having more equal surface sizes would
make the results more accurate because it removes an extra variable.
Future ideas for experiments would be using a wider variety of surfaces to attain a wider variety
of results.
The background research is congruent with the results of this experiment. The background
research, mentioned in the introduction, provides a good explanation as to why different surfaces
affect bounce height.
The hardest surface will result in the highest bounce. The hypothesis of this experiment in both
supported by the results of this experiment and background research.
Boman, S. (2013). Practical Report: Bounce Efficiency. [online] Angles and Acid. Available at:
[Accessed 13 Aug. 2017].
Buddies, S. (2014). Surface Science: Where Does a Basketball Bounce Best?. [online] Scientific
American. Available at:
a-basketball-bounce-best/ [Accessed 10 Aug. 2017].
Johnson, R. (n.d.). What Factors Affect How High a Ping-Pong Ball Bounces? - GCSE Science -
Marked by [online] Available at:
bounces.html [Accessed 5 Aug. 2017].
McGregor, A. (2013). Why do things bounce more on hard surfaces than soft ones?. [online] Available at:
surfaces-than-soft-ones/ [Accessed 11 Aug. 2017].
Major Open Ended Investigation – Ryan Lasek
Diary Log:
Term / Week Tasks Undertaken
Term 3 / Week 6 Assessment task received – diary entries begin
Term 3 / Week 7 Outline submitted to the teacher for appraisal
Purchased three different meter rulers, ping pong balls
and tape from hardware store and general store.
Term 3 / Week 8 Conduct background research.
Set up rough version of apparatus and tested which ruler
markings were easiest to see on the camera.
Term 3 / Week 9 Bought new ping pong balls as the ones I previously got
were not a good colour to see against the ruler. This made it
easier to record results.
Term 3 / Week 10 Final apparatus set up ready. Tested 5 different surfaces.
Used camera to record each drop and take photos of
apparatus for report.
Term 4 / Week 1 Analysed video recording to gather results. Made photo
overlays of bounces. Recorded results in table and made a
Started writing report
Term 4 / Week 2 Finished writing report
Term 4/ Week 2 Assessment task completed and submitted for marking.

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