Tennis Balls

by Sarah
(Winston Salem, NC)

Typical bounce for a tennis ball

Typical bounce for a tennis ball

The science project that I remember most was about tennis balls. My question was whether tennis balls bounce higher when they are hot or cold. I don't even remember why I thought of that, but it turned out to be really interesting.

I ended up making a measuring guide out of this big sheet. I then heated up some of the tennis balls and put some in the freezer to cool down. I draped the sheet over a balcony (I happened to live in an apartment complex) and dropped the balls from the second story.

My dad was down below with a camera. He tried to capture the balls bouncing as they hit the ground. My conclusion was that it didn't really matter, but there was something else interesting that happened.

For some reason, none of the shots of the tennis balls developed. My dad is pretty professional when it comes to pictures, but for some reason they didn't turn out. He couldn't figure out why.

My teacher told me to mention this in my science project, and I did. It turns out that the judges were pretty interesting in this information. I ended up getting an honorable mention. I guess it just goes to show that even when you think you've messed the experiment up, you can write about it and turn it around!

Barry's Response - The best scientific discoveries were made by accident. What one perceives as a failure can turn out to be the greatest success they ever had...all by accident. Thanks for your story, Sarah.

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Thank you to my research and writing assistants, ChatGPT and WordTune, as well as Wombo and others for the images.

GPT-4, OpenAI's large-scale language generation model (and others provided by Google and Meta), helped generate this text.  As soon as draft language is generated, the author reviews, edits, and revises it to their own liking and is responsible for the content.