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Physical Properties of Bouncing Balls

Grades: 5
Author: Stacy Barnett, Pam Dillahunt, Cheri Bailey, AGPA Staff
Source: Original


Students create bouncing balls of various shapes and determine the differences in the height that the various balls bounce.


What should students know as a result of this lesson?

  • Students will know what polymers are and some properties of polymers
  • Students will understand the effect of shape on the rebound of the bouncing balls, which are polymers
  • Students will know how to use scientific inquiry skills

What should the students be able to do as a result of this lesson?

  • Students will be able to carry out scientific investigations with data tables
  • Students will be able to report their findings from scientific investigations
  • Students will be able to create a "Y" chart (graphic organizer) for comparing or contrasting


  • Bouncing Ball Kits - Educational Innovations, Inc. among other vendors
  • Measuring Tape or Meter Stick for measuring bounce height
  • Candy molds to be used to create simple shapes other than round
  • Choositz decision balls - Educational Innovations, Inc.
  • Plastic cups
  • Water
  • Stop watch or other timing device
  • Assorted store-bought bouncing balls



  1. Using Choositz decision balls have the students predict what will happen when you attempt to bounce each ball. Do not tell the students that although the balls look the same, they are made of different polymers so they do not bounce to the same height.
  2. Drop the ball that has a higher rebound (bounce) and then drop the second ball.
  3. Have a discussion that although the balls look the same, they are made of different polymers, which give them different final properties (i.e. bounce or rebound).
  4. Ask the students the following question: Do you think shape will affect the bounce of a bouncing ball?

Assessment: Informal at this step, monitor that the students are participating and observing the demonstration.


  1. In groups, have the students make a round ball and a ball of another shape. If you cannot obtain candy molds or other molds that are not spherical, the students can add less powder into the mold so that the balls have a flat side to them or when the balls are first removed from the molds, you can reshape slightly.
  2. Have the students drop each ball and record the height of the bounce of the ball.

Assessment: Make sure the students are staying on task and recording their data properly. Each group will record their observations in data tables.


  • As a class, each group will present their findings.
  • Introduce polymers to the class, explaining that rubber is a polymeric material (see content knowledge).
  • Introduce the term elasticity, which is a property of polymers.

Assessment: Monitor that the groups of students properly present their findings to the class.


  1. Ask students what they believe will be the results when repeating the bounce experiment with store-bought balls.
  2. Repeat the bounce experiment above to compare the store-bought bouncing balls.

Assessment: The students should create individually a "Y" chart (graphic organizer) to compare or contrast the handmade bouncing balls and the store-bought bouncing balls.


Students should know how to use a ruler to make measurements.

Best Teaching Practices

  • Hands-on/Minds-on Learning
  • Inquiry Approaches

Alignment with Standards

NGSS Standards:

  • 5-PS1-3 Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

National Standards:

  • Science as Inquiry Grades 5-8
  • Physical Science 5-8

Ohio Standards:

  • Grades 3-5: Scientific Inquiry Benchmark A, B & C

Content Knowledge

Polymers are long chain molecules that are naturally occurring and man-made (synthetic). They are present in many different forms in our everyday world.

See the rest of the AGPA website for more information about polymers, including this video presentation.

Another useful website is the Macrogalleria


  • Follow safety instructions with the ball kits and general science classroom safety procedures.


Polymers are a class of materials. In our everyday lives, we encounter many polymers.


Evaluation question: Does the shape affect the bounce of a bouncing ball? Explain.

Other Considerations

Grouping Suggestions: 4-6 students/group, mix students of different levels in groups

Pacing/Suggested Time: 2-3 days depending on the class period length

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