NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ902125
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5769
Exploring the Mathematics of Bouncing Balls
Vinogradova, Natalya; Blaine, Larry G.
Mathematics Teacher, v104 n3 p192-198 Oct 2010
A common textbook problem asks students to calculate the total distance traveled by a bouncing ball, from its initial release until it comes to rest, under the assumption that the height of each bounce is some fixed proportion "r" of the height of the previous bounce. The solution is found by inserting information about "r" and the height from which the ball was dropped into a formula for an infinite geometric sum. In this article, the authors discuss some variations on this general idea, involving measurements of times--rather than heights--for various combinations of bounces. They present an activity that allows students to explore geometric sums and quadratic equations and analyze experimental data using simple equipment--stopwatches, tape measures, and golf balls. The activity can be carried out in any classroom and can be used to illuminate different mathematical topics, such as statistical analysis of data, geometric sequences in general, and the sum of decreasing geometric sequences in particular. Students see mathematics as a useful tool for creating and analyzing models that describe real processes. (Contains 3 tables.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A