What is a Bouncy Ball?
Let’s first take a look at what makes up a bouncy ball. They are composed of thousands of elastic fibers. Elasticity means that the object is able to retain it’s shape after some sort of twisting or squeezing has been applied to the object. Rubber and different forms of polymers, a substance made up of the same matter, make up a bouncy ball. These rubber balls are able to retain their shape, even after compression. The elasticity helps quite a bit, but the rest is all up to physics.
Potential Energy is the amount of energy that an object has when it is at it’s resting stage.
Kinetic Energy is the amount of energy that the object possesses when it is in motion.
When the ball is at rest in your hand, all of it’s energy is in the form of potential energy. If you were to drop the ball, that energy is converted over to kinetic energy. Right before the ball hits the ground, it’s energy is all kinetic. The ball is moving fast enough to compress as it starts hitting the ground. We can’t see this with our eyes because it is moving too fast. If we slow it down with a high-speed camera, we will see something like this…
This is a tennis ball that is fully compressed against the ground. Once it hits the ground, all of it’s energy is back to potential energy. The composition of the ball has enough elasticity to help it return to it’s original shape. Thus, transforming the energy back into kinetic energy while the ball is in motion.
So why does a bouncy ball bounce?
In the end, it’s mostly because of the material that makes up the ball. The Wham-O Super Ball is the one of the bounciest around the world. The rubber polymer that makes up the ball is polybutadiene. It goes through 1,000 lbs of pressure per square inch! That’s just to make it!