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Bounce Back Ball
Task with Student Directions

5th Grade Performance Task
Contributed by: Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP)


Students will be working in teams of four to measure the rebound heights of a tennis ball dropped from four different heights. Students wil be investigating with the bouncing balls to measure changes in the type of energy they possess.


  • 1 tennis ball
  • 1 meter stick
  • 2 sheets of scrap paper for recording data
  • masking tape (enough to hold the meter stick to the wall)
  • 4 calculators


Each team member will have a job to do based on a number: 1, 2, 3, or 4.

Number 1-Tape the meter stick to the wall or any stable vertical surface with 0 cm at the bottom.
Number 2-Drop the tennis ball from each of the different heights three times as shown on the chart.
Number 3-Take the measurement of the rebound. Be sure to use the bottome edge of the ball for your measurements. You should sit on the floor directly in front of the meter stick and be ready to watch the ball bounce.
Number 4-Record the data. Make sure other team members copy the data into their Answer Books after all data is collected.

  1. Conduct the trials and have the recorder complete the "Ball Rebound Heights" chart. When you have completed all of the trials, each of you should copy the data onto your own charts.

    Starting Height
    Ball Rebound Heights
    Trial 1
    Trial 2
    Trial 3
    100 cm
    80 cm
    60 cm
    40 cm


  2. Remember that one of your classmates had stated that a ball will not bounce back to the starting height no matter what the starting position might be. Using evidence from you investigation, explain whether or not you think your classmate's statement was true.

  3. Remember that one of your classmates had stated that a ball will not bounce back to the starting height no matter what the starting position might be. Using evidence from your investigation, explain when or not you think your classmate's statement was you.

  4. The following chart contains that data collected by a group of students in another class.

    Starting Height
    Ball Rebound Heights
    Trial 1
    Trial 2
    Trial 3
    100 cm
    79 cm
    81 cm
    80 cm
    62 cm
    59 cm
    59 cm
    50 cm
    40 cm
    40 cm
    40 cm
    25 cm
    21 cm
    19 cm
    20 cm


    STEP A: Use the chart above that contains data collected by a group of student in another class to calculate and record the mean height of the rebounds for trials at each height.

    100 cm _____________
    75 cm _____________
    50 cm _____________
    25 cm _____________

    STEP B: Construct a graph that illustrates the mean rebound height for each height as calculated in Step A.

In this investigation, you measured that starting height and the rebound height of the ball. Now let's look at the type of energy the ball had at different times.

  1. STEP A: Identify the kind of energy the ball had when you held the ball at 100 cm.

    STEP B: Explain your answer.

    STEP C: Identify when the ball has kinetic energy.

  2. Suppose the rebound height of a ball was 80 cm when its starting height was 100 cm. Explain what caused the difference in the amount of energy in the ball.

Think back to the game your class is planning. One student suggested that you make a spinner of possible drop heights. After using the spinner to select a drop height, the player will have to predict the rebound height. If correct, the player will win a prize!

To make the fame more challenging, your class decided to construct a new spinner with drop heights not used in your investigation. Turn to your Resource Book and look at the spinner and poster that could have been used for the game. You have decided on 3 of the 4 choices for the spinner. Unfortunately, you are deadlocked on the fourth choice. Half of the class wants to put 200 cm on the spinner and the other half wants to put 20 cm on the spinner. You don't want to make a mistake because the carnival is next month, and you have to make the poster and spinner today.

  1. Write a note to your teacher explaining which number you think is the better choice. Use your knowledge of science to help you decide the more reasonable height for the game. Support your choice with evidence from your investigation.

    Dear Teacher,

  1. Use the graph you constructed in Activity 2, Step B of your Answer Book to help decided the rebound height measurement you would predict if the ball was dropped from a height of 120 cm.

    STEP A: Write your prediction here._________cm

STEP B: Explain how you arrived at this prediction.

Your class has decided to include a bonus prize for the players of your game. To get this bonus, the player must calculate the work done as the ball falls. They will use the drop height they selected with the spinner when they try to win the bonus.

  1. STEP A: Meters are units used with length measurements, newtons are units used with force measurements, and joules are units used with work measurements. Now that you have this information, use the rule: Work (joules) = height (meters) times force (newtons) to calculate the work done when the drop height is 0.5 meters and force on the ball is 0.6 newtons.

    STEP B: How would the amount of work change if the height were increased?






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