# The Science of Golf. Test Lab Toolkit The Ball: Aerodynamics. Grades 6-8

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1 The Science of Golf Test Lab Toolkit The Ball: Grades 6-8 Science Technology Engineering Mathematics

2 Table of Contents Welcome to the Test Lab 02 Investigate: Bernoulli s Principle 03 Investigate: Wind Tunnel 06 Create: Paper Airplane Tournament 10 Connect: Sports Swap 13 Key Concepts 16 Test Lab Toolkits bring math and science to life by showing how STEM studies play a big role in the game of golf. They are funded by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

4 Investigate: Bernoulli s Principle Grades 6-8 S T E M How does air pressure keep a golf ball in the air? What Do You Need? At the USGA Test Center, scientists examine every aspect of a golf ball its weight, shape, size, materials, and how it flies. For the last part, they need to understand the science of aerodynamics, or how objects move through the air. Air continually exerts pressure (or pushing power) on everything it surrounds. The faster the air moves, the less pressure it exerts an effect called Bernoulli s Principle. In this activity, you ll investigate the relationship between low and high pressure by seeing Bernoulli s Principle in action. AIR FLOW 2 pieces of paper (8½ by 11) 3 Ping Pong Balls String Scissors Chopstick (or other stick) Tape Straw Lower Pressure FLIGHT PATH Higher Pressure AIR FLOW Air Pressure The Science of Golf 03

6 Investigate: Bernoulli s Principle Grades 6-8 Experiment What Will Happen? What Did Happen? Where is the Low Pressure Air? Where is the High Pressure Air? Parallel Paper Prediction Result Location Location Paper Tent Hanging Ping Pong Funnel Add this chart to your Test Lab Log! 05

7 Investigate: Wind Tunnel Grades 6-8 S T E M How does drag affect how a ball flies through the air? The hit from a club starts the golf ball moving, but how far it flies depends in part on how aerodynamic it is. The aerodynamic force called lift makes the ball move upward the more lift it has, the farther it will go. At the same time, wind resistance pushes back against the ball, creating a force called drag, which slows the ball down. The USGA Test Center uses a high-speed robot launcher to shoot golf balls at speeds up to 200 mph so that they can measure their aerodynamics. In this activity, you ll make your own wind tunnel to see which balls cause the least drag and fly most easily. What Do You Need? Portable fan Large cardboard box Quart-size milk cartons, at least 12, more depending on the size of your box 1 or more sheets of acetate (available at an art or office supply store) Posterboard Masking tape Scissors Markers in different colors String Tissue paper, paper strip, or lightweight fabric Golf ball and other light balls with different weight, size, texture, etc. Tape measure (optional) Scale (optional) Protractor (optional) AIR FLOW Drag AIR FLOW AIR FLOW Lift and Drag SPIN Lift Weight FLIGHT PATH SPIN The Science of Golf 06

8 Investigate: Wind Tunnel Grades 6-8 What Do You Do? 1 Get a large cardboard box, more rectangular than square. The short end should be approximately the same size as the fan (or as close as possible). Cut off the two short ends, so that air can easily pass through the box. 2 Cut a square window out of the middle of one long side. Tape a sheet of acetate over the window, so that you can see into the box. 3 Cut the ends off the milk cartons, stack them together, and tape them, so that they form a grid that fits inside the box at one end. They should extend no more than 1/3 of the way along the box, not past the window. If the cartons are too long, cut them shorter. This grid will even out the air from the fan. 5 Make a small hole on the top of the box, in the middle of the window area. 6 Your wind tunnel is ready to use! First attach a small piece of tissue paper to a piece of string with tape. Thread the string through the hole at the top of the box, position the tissue paper so that it hangs in the middle of the tunnel, and tape the string to the top. 7 Turn the fan on and record how far forward the paper moves. Try different fan speeds. Fan Paper Grid Ball 8 Now use the wind tunnel with different balls. If you want to be precise, you can weigh each ball and measure its diameter. For each ball, attach it to a string, position it so that it hangs in the middle of the tunnel, and tape the string (through the hole) to the top of the box. Turn the fan on and try different speeds. 9 You can use a marker on the acetate to draw the position of the string when the fan is off and at different speeds, and then use a protractor to measure the angles. Use a different sheet of acetate for each ball, or a different color marker on the same acetate. String with Tape Hole Acetate Cardboard Box 4 Place the fan at the grid end of the box, as close to it as possible, facing inside. If there is extra room between the fan and the edges of the box, cut pieces of posterboard and tape them over the open spaces, so that all the air is directed into the box. Open End 07

9 Investigate: Wind Tunnel Grades 6-8 What Happens? Use the chart to record your results, and make more as needed. What Does it Mean? What seems to have the biggest effect on decreasing drag and making a ball fly forward more easily weight, size, texture, something else? How did the golf ball compare to the others? Why do you think the USGA regulates golf ball design? Find Out More Read Key Concepts at the back of this Toolkit. Read : Background Information. Watch the NBC Learn video Evolution of the Golf Ball at 08

10 Investigate: Wind Tunnel Grades 6-8 Ball Weight ounces Diameter inches Texture Angle at Fan Speed 1 degrees Angle at Fan Speed 2 degrees Golf Ball dimpled Angle at Fan Speed 3 degrees Add this chart to your Test Lab Log! 09

11 Create: Paper Airplane Tournament Grades 6-8 S T E M What kind of paper airplane flies the best? Even small design changes can greatly increase a ball s lift (the force that makes it go up) and decrease its drag (the force that slows it down), which in turn affect how far the ball can go. That s why the USGA sets specific standards for golf ball design (weight, size, shape, speed, etc.) and tests more than 30,000 balls per year to make sure they meet those standards. In this activity, you ll use what you ve learned about aerodynamics to design a paper airplane, and see if you can make yours go farther than anyone else s! What Do You Need? Copy paper (8½ by 11) Other types of paper (optional) Scissors String How to Make a Paper Airplane Step 1 Fold the paper in half lengthwise. Run your thumbnail along the fold to make it sharp. Then unfold it. Step 2 Fold down the top corners so that they meet in the middle. Materials that could be added to a plane (paperclips, tape, glue, staples, etc.) Tape measure (optional) Stopwatch Step 3 Fold the two top edges toward the center line. This activity is adapted from Amazing Paper Airplanes ( The Science of Golf 10

13 Create: Paper Airplane Tournament Grades 6-8 Plane Model Paper Type Change Shape? Change Texture Change Weight? Distance Time in the Air Standard Dart Copy Paper No No No 15 feet 5 seconds Add this chart to your Test Lab Log! 12

14 Connect: Sports Swap Grades 6-8 S T E M Why do different sports use such different balls? Many sports use a ball. But the balls are designed for different purposes hitting (golf), throwing (baseball), kicking (soccer), and more. And the aerodynamics of each is different also, with different balls better for travelling short or long distances, or bouncing, or flying high. How well-suited is each ball to its own sport? In this activity, you ll mix up sports and balls to find out! What Do You Need? A variety of balls from different sports (golf, tennis, basketball, etc.) Equipment used with each ball (golf club, tennis racket, etc.) Scale (optional) Tape measure (optional) Stopwatch (optional) The Science of Golf 13

15 Connect: Sports Swap Grades 6-8 What Do You Do? 1 Take a look at all the balls you have. How are they different in terms of weight, size (diameter), shape, and texture? You can estimate measurements, or use a scale and tape measure if you want to be precise. 2 Go to a large open space. Try throwing each ball. Record how far it goes, how long it stays in the air, and how it feels to throw it. 3 Try each piece of equipment with each ball. For example, try using the golf club with each of the balls, then the tennis racket, and so on. What happens? 4 Try playing a full game that mixes equipment from different sports for example, play basketball with a ping pong ball. What happens? What Happens? Use the charts to record your results, and make more as needed. What Does it Mean? Why do you think the balls are made the way they are? How does changing the ball change the sport? Why is a golf ball the best ball to use for golf? Find Out More Read Key Concepts at the back of this Toolkit. Read : Background Information. Watch the NBC Learn video Evolution of the Golf Ball at 14

16 Connect: Sports Swap Grades 6-8 Ball Throw (Step 2) Ball Weight Diameter Shape Texture Distance Thrown Time in the Air Feel of the Throw Golf 1.6 ounces 1.7 inches sphere dimpled 30 feet 5 seconds light Equipment Swap (Step 3) Ball Equipment What Do You Think Will Happen? What Did Happen? Is the Sport Easier or More Difficult with the Different Ball? Golf Baseball bat Will hit it far Too small to hit easily More difficult Add this chart to your Test Lab Log! 15

17 Key Concepts The science of how objects move through the air. The word comes form the combination of the Greek words aeroes (of the air) and dynamis (power, strength, force). Airflow The motion of air. In the case of a golf ball, airflow refers to how air moves around and/or past a ball as it travels. Air Pressure A force caused by air pressing (or pushing) on an object. Air continually exerts pressure on everything it surrounds. Bernoulli s Principle A scientific principle that states that moving air causes less pressure on an object than still air. This is also true of moving fluids (like water). Dimples Dents on a golf ball that help it travel farther through the air. They do this by creating turbulence in the airflow around the ball, which reduces drag. Drag (Air Resistance) A force created by air pushing back against a moving object, which causes it to slow down. Most round objects (like a golf ball) have less drag than flat objects (like a cube). Flight Path The direction in which a golf ball travels through the air. Force The means by which an object is pushed or pulled. Golf Ball (Featherie) In the 17th century, golf balls were created by stuffing a wet leather pouch with goose feathers and sewing it up, which then shrank into a hard, compact ball as it dried. Featheries could fly better than earlier wood balls, but were expensive to make and very fragile. Golf Ball (Guttie) In the mid-19th century, golf balls were made out of gutta-percha (a rubbery sap from tropical sapodilla trees). Gutties were more solid and resilient than featheries, so they could bounce better and fly faster, but also stop quickly when landing. 16

18 Key Concepts Golf Ball (Modern) Golf balls today have as few as one or as many as six different layers of solid material, usually polymers such as polybutadiene (a highly resilient synthetic rubber that is also used in car tires). Gravity A force of attraction that pulls objects toward each other. The more mass an object has, the stronger its gravitational pull. Lift A force that lifts an object upward due to the difference between the air pressure above and below it. The air moving over the top of a golf ball travels faster than the air below it, causing the ball to move upward. Mass The amount of matter in an object. The more mass an object has, the more force is required to move it. Newton s Laws of Motion Scientific principles established by English scientist Isaac Newton in the 17th century. First law: an object at rest will stay at rest, or an object in motion will stay in motion at a constant speed, unless an external force acts on it. Second law: when a force acts on an object, the object will move in the same direction that the force was moving. Third law: any object will react to a force applied to it, and the force of the reaction will be equal to and in the opposite direction of the original force applied. Speed The measure of how fast an object travels a specific distance over a specific time. Spin The circular motion of a golf ball as it travels through the air. As a ball moves forward through the air, the dimples cause the ball to actually spin backwards, pulling the airflow downwards. As this happens, the air at the bottom of the ball pushes up against the ball, creating more lift. Turbulence Irregular or agitated motion of the air. You can feel this when an airplane encounters turbulence and starts to shake. 17

19 Key Concepts Velocity The measure of speed in a specific direction. Weight The measure of the pull of gravity on the mass of an object. The weight of an object makes it harder to lift or stay aloft in the air. 18

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