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Bouncing Ball

Grade Level: 8 th

Time: 120 minutes

Learning Objectives

In this activity, students' will create a Height-Time plot for a bouncing ball. They will

examine how the ball's height changes mathematically from one bounce to the next. Students will become proficient using TI calculators and CBR to gather real life data.


TX.112.20 Science, Grade 8.

8.4 (A)

Use appropriate tools to collect, record, and analyze information, including lab journals/notebooks, beakers, meter sticks, graduated cylinders, anemometers, psychrometers, hot plates, test tubes, spring scales, balances, microscopes, thermometers, calculators, computers, spectroscopes, timing devices, and other equipment as needed to teach the curriculum.


Objective 1

Knowledge of numbers, operations, and quantitative reasoning is critical for the development of mathematical skills.

Objective 2

Understanding patterns, relationships, and algebraic thinking is an integral component of basic algebra. At eighth grade, students will identify relationships using proportions to estimate percent and calculate rates. Students will generate, in mathematical terms or verbal descriptions, information from various forms of data to compare and contrast quantities.

Materials and Resources

Computer CBR unit (From Texas Instruments) TI-82 or TI-83 calculator Calculator-to-CBR cable

A variety of balls to bounce (students can bring their favorite balls from home) RANGER program from Texas Instruments

Instructional Sequence

Introduction (15 minutes)

The teacher will explain that if you drop a ball on the floor, its rebound height decreases from one bounce to the next. Mathematically speaking, most balls bounce in a very regular pattern. You can use percentages to determine how high a ball will rebound on each bounce and make predictions about its motion. The teacher will ask students questions about their perceptions of what causes the balls the rebound, based on students’ experiential knowledge. The teacher will allow the students to participate and help them elaborate and expand on their answers.


Calculator explanation (15 minutes)

The teacher will from groups of three students carefully mixing them according to their apparent mathematical abilities and English fluency, thus creating a low risk environment that promotes learning. The teacher will have previously set up the programs into the calculators so students do no waste time with this process. It is assumed that students are familiar with TI calculators prior to the development of this experiment.

Collecting the Data and Collaborative learning (20 minutes)

The students will collaborate to make this experiment and they will need help from each other.

  • 1. The teacher will assign three students for each data collection as follows (change students every trial): one to hold the CBR, one to release the ball, and one to run the calculator.

  • 2. A student will position the CBR at shoulder-height and hold the ball 0.5 meters below it. Press [ENTER].

  • 3. The person holding the ball must release it at the same time that the person holding the CBR presses [TRIGGER]. Be sure to move your hands out of the way after the ball is released. Your plot should show at least four complete bounces.

  • 4. If you are satisfied with your plot, sketch your plot to the right, and then go to the next section. If not, press [ENTER], select 3: REPEAT SAMPLE from the PLOT MENU, and try again.

A variety of balls to bounce (students can bring their favorite balls from home) RANGER program

Problem solving (45 minutes)

  • 1. Record the first complete bounce heights (peak y-values on the plot).

  • 2. How does one bounce compare to the next? To find out, look at bounce ratios. Write the ratio of the second rebound height to the first rebound height (in fraction form). Repeat for the ratio of the third bounce to the second bounce and the fourth bounce to the third bounce.

  • 3. Express each bounce ratio as a percentage. Record these percentages.

  • 4. How do the rebound percents compare?

  • 5. Make an average of the rebound percentages.

  • 6. Compare rebound percents for different starting heights (repeat experiment).

  • 7. Did a different starting height significantly affect the rebound percentage?

  • 8. If you dropped the ball you used from a height of 12 meters, to what height would it rebound on the first, second and third bounces?

Assessment (25 minutes)

The teacher will have students present their result to the class at the end of the period in an informal and relaxed manner. Students will turn in their results per team, and the teacher will evaluate after class. Based on these results, the teacher could start the following day reviewing the assessment if answers deviated too much from the expected values.

The teacher will write meaningful comments on students papers and will return them as soon as possible so students can review the comments and ask questions if necessary.