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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. “

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gma from ma
May 3, 2011
at 2:16 pm


KS from FL
May 5, 2011
at 12:11 pm

Wow! Congratulations, Peyton! Hooray “fore” you. I read all about your ideas, and I am going to make sure to tell my dad. He’s an avid golfer. Keep experimenting! This was such a wonderful idea.
Ms. Shealy

MBG from FL
May 8, 2011
at 4:26 am

Peyton, you started by wondering and questioning. That’s how all great scientists and inventors begin. I am proud of you for following that question through to an answer and possible solution. That’s what science is all about!
Mrs. Graf

Anonymous from
May 26, 2011
at 5:34 pm

Dear Peyton, I am Merrie Benjamin (a.k.a. Camille Burston) and I won the sounds catagory. it sounds like you are having a great time. I hope that you are having fun.

NMB from NJ
June 4, 2011
at 8:42 am

If you want to make a “ball preserver” you should test the balls with the cover intact instead of removing it.

What actual height difference did you measure with balls bouncing at different temperatures? That would have been interesting for us to know.