Department of Mathematics Education

EMAT 6700, J. Wilson



Bouncing Ball

J. Matt Tumlin



Does a bouncing ball follow a linear pattern?  With classroom-generated data, students will be able to answer this question. Students are instructed to enter the data in a graphing calculator.  Then they find a linear equation that models it.


To motivate the students, discuss what the ball is going to do.  Ask students what they the ball will do.  Ask students what accounts for the obvious decrease in height. 





For a Microsoft Word copy, CLICK HERE.





The materials you will need for this activity are a rubber ball, measuring tape, and a graphing calculator.  Have the students work in groups of four.  The assignments for the four group members are as follows: one person will drop the ball, another person will use their finger to mark the height of the ball on the measuring tape, the third person will record the results, and lastly, on person will hold the tape measure.  Students should rotate jobs halfway through the experiment.  The ball will be dropped from distances of 200 cm to 25 cm in steps of 25.  The height of the first bounce should be measured using the tape measure.  The group will decide how the measurement should be done.  This measure should be taken the same way each bounce.  Two surfaces will be used, the floor and the desk.  The ball is to be dropped three times from the same height.  The average of the 3 bounces is used for the data recorded in the table.



This problem has many aspects you can go into, slope, y-intercept, equation of a line, and use of technology.  It also has many entry and exit points.



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