You can determine if a curveball really curves
The simple act of throwing a baseball depends upon underlying scientific principles, and discovering how that science is interrelated with sports has always been a fascination of researchers. By investigating various aspects of sports science that answer the questions how, why and where, you will add to society’s understanding of science at work in sports. As with all science experiments, adult supervision and guidance is recommended.
Does a curve ball really curve? Find out with this experiment. For this project, you will need a camcorder, a tripod, a light plastic toy baseball, a baseball pitcher, a computer, and some editing software that can break down a video into frames.
Instruct the pitcher to throw the toy ball 5 times at a target 30 feet away without putting a spin on it. Position the camcorder on the tripod far enough away to record the complete trajectory of the ball without moving the camcorder. Instruct the pitcher to throw the toy baseball with a heavy spin on it. Repeat Step 1, but with a spinning baseball. Load the best video of each throw (with and without spin) into a computer, and use the editing software to break down the videos frame by frame.
Print and display all the frames, both with and without a spin on the baseball. Report your findings, and conclude if a baseball does indeed curve when a spin is placed on it (a curve ball).
Effect of Spin on a Football
This project answers the question, “How does putting a spin on a football affect its flight?” For the equipment you will need: A football, a camcorder and tripod, a computer and film editing software. You will need to enlist the assistance of a football player who can throw a football with an accurate spiral.
Ask the player to throw the football without a spiral at a target 30 feet away. Position the camcorder and tripod to capture the trajectory without moving the camcorder. Record the trajectory 5 times. Keep the best video clip, which illustrates a clear trajectory, and load it into a computer. Repeat Step 1, but only with a heavy spin on the football. Keep the best video and load it into a computer. Break down the two videos (with and without spin) into frames. In the display, print frames illustrating the flight trajectory of both with and without spin.
Report your findings. In the report, write about what conclusions you drew based upon the frames presented on the display board. In your report, reflect on how spin affects the flight of a football, and answer the original question posed.
Inflation Pressure Effects on Bounce
Science Buddies recommends an experiment to measure how varying inflation pressures on a ball affects its bounce. For this experiment, you will need a basketball, an air pressure gauge, a ladder, a tape measure and a camcorder. Inflate and deflate the ball to different pressures, and record how high the ball bounces with different pressures.
Science Buddies suggests setting up a two-column table. In column 1, record the air pressure. In column 2, record how high the ball bounced. After running the experiment and collecting all the data, report on your findings, and report the manufacturers’ recommended pressure for different types of balls.