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July 8th, 2011

Super Stuff for Sports Winner at the School of Polymers & High Performance Materials

Pic 1: Peyton playing golf; Pic 2: Peyton and Daniel Savin (Assistant Professor of Polymer Science & Engineering) in his lab at the School of Polymers & High Performance Materials; Pic 3: Peyton and Olivia McNair (AGEP Scholar – Chemistry, PHD Candidate – Sports and High Performance Materials);
Pic 4: Peyton in Daniel Savin’s lab; Pic 5: Peyton in Daniel Savin’s lab; Pic 6: Peyton and Daniel Savin (Assistant Professor of Polymer Science & Engineering) in his lab at the School of Polymers & High Performance Materials; Pic 7: Peyton and Daniel Savin (Assistant Professor of Polymer Science & Engineering) in his lab at the School of Polymers & High Performance Materials.

May 21st, 2011

Yesterday we spent about 5 hours in the lab.  First, we repeated my initial experiment but at temperature extremes.  We froze a ball with liquid nitrogen and heated a ball in Dr. Savin’s oven to over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  We then measured the balls’ bounciness.  We learned the ball doesn’t have to be incredibly hot but it should not be overly cold in order to perform normally.  I think I’ll rename the ball warmer a ball preserver since it is only important to keep it from getting overly cold.  Dr. Savin next showed me around the lab which was incredibly interesting.  He has 3 amazing types of microscopes.  Next Olivia and I made golf balls out of a new polymer to see if we could find a polymer that performed well at different temperatures.  Dr. Savin has a machine called a DMA which measures the energy absorption, the opposite of elasticity, at various temperatures.  Olivia calculated the volume of the golf ball so we could measure out the right amount of material and then we put the material in a golf ball mold and used a UV light to harden the material.  After lunch we went to the University’s accelerator and actually hit the balls we made as well as hit regular balls at different temperatures.  Dr. Savin, Olivia, Mr. Metzner, and I all hit a few balls. There was a lot of pressure on us all to hit a good shot as there were several cameras rolling!   I learned a ton, had a great time, and really appreciate all the time Dr. Savin, Mr. Metzner, and Olivia spent teaching me.  Thank you so much.  Peyton

May 20th, 2011

Yesterday was terrific.  After trying beignets in the French Quarter we drove to Mississippi and met Mr. Metzner for lunch.  He is super nice.  Together we drove to the University and Dr. Savin’s lab.  We started by learning more about polymers.  Dr. Savin explained the effect of heat on polymers, crosslinking, viscocity, and the difference between a plastic set and thermoplastics.  We cut open a golf ball and looked at the polymer inside.  Dr. Savin’s idea is instead of a creating a golf ball warmer to create in the lab a golf ball from a polymer which would perform similarly at different temperatures.  This morning we are going to make a new golf ball and experiment with it.   I’m super excited to head back to the lab today.

May 18th, 2011

Today I flew to New Orleans and spent the day sightseeing.   My dad and I took a cruise on a paddle boat  named the Natchez down the Mississippi.  We were able to see the inside of steam engine room where steam pressure fires two large pistons which turn the paddle wheel.  On the cruise, we also saw a portion of the levy which was repaired after Hurricane Katrina.  Interestingly, a good amount of New Orleans is 6 ft below sea level.  I could see how important the levy is as you could see the 9th ward beyond and below the level of the levy.   After the cruise we visited the New Orleans Aquarium and walked the French Quarter.   I’m very excited to meet Dr. Savin and see his lab tomorrow.

May 15th, 2011

I’ve been thinking about the design of the ball warmer and if we could use “thermos” technology.  My Dad and I  researched what makes a thermos work and I learned about vacuum flasks.  I’m going to bring a drawing of this idea for the ball warmer to Mississippi.

May 15th, 2011

Thank you Ms. Shealy, Mrs. Graf, and Mrs. Kidwell ”fore” your notes and thank you Mrs. Graf for being a great “caddy” with my experiment!  See you next week at school!  Peyton

May 15th, 2011

Thanks to the Kids Science Challenge for the neat materials they mailed.  This afternoon I did the space sand, super snow, and the expanding spheres.  I’m now experimenting with the micoscope.  Thanks!  Peyton

May 5th, 2011

Hello Everyone!

Hi everyone.  I’m Peyton and I was so excited to be selected as the winner of the Super Stuff for Sports Challenge!   I am especially looking forward to meeting Dr. Savin in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.   I’m told he has a really amazing lab at the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials.   I want to be an engineer when I grow up, so I can’t wait to see it.

May 1st, 2011

Super Stuff for Sports Winner Announced!

Congratulations to Peyton Robertson for winning the Grand Prize for his entry in the Kids’ Science Challenge Super Stuff for Sports category. Here’s his entry:

How does the temperature of the core of the golf ball affect the distance that the ball travels? My idea is to create a ball warmer which would keep the core of a golf ball warm. If players place their ball inside the warmer until they begin to play a hole, they would be able to hit the ball consistently in any temperature. I asked my Dad how golf balls are made. We cracked open a golf ball and then googled how golf balls are designed. Our research told us that, while some golf balls have two and others have three layers, all golf balls have a hard plastic outer shell and a rubber core. Next, I researched how temperature affects rubber. I learned that the rubber inside a golf ball allows the ball to “bounce” off of the golf club. Therefore, at impact, the ball has an elastic collision during which energy is transferred from the club to the ball. There is a second collision when the ball bounces on the ground. It seems that this kind of energy is called kinetic energy. Balls with warm cores have more bounce: they are more elastic. Balls with cold cores have less bounce: they are inelastic. Warm balls have a greater ability to flex during a collision with the club and there fore transfer more kinetic energy to the ball. The warmer the core, the more elastic it becomes, and the farther it travels when struck. I spoke with my science teacher, Mrs.Graf, about kinetic energy and my ideas about how to test my hypothesis. She helped me understand that I had to keep all of the variables constant in my experiment except for the temperature of the ball. My Dad helped me to put up our tallest ladder–10 feet– so the height was constant. We taped a tube to the ladder which allowed me to drop the ball the same speed every time-so the velocity was constant. Finally, we strapped a tape measure to the ladder to consistently measure the bounce. My dad and I called Callaway golf to ask if they could mail just the core of the ball, but they said they could not do that. So, we took some hedge trimmers and cut away the outer plastic covering from three Callaway golf balls. We heated one ball on the stove to 100 degrees F, cooled one ball in the freezer to 26 degrees F, and kept one ball at room temperature. I dropped each ball 10 times from the ladder. “