To investigate the
relationship between bat materials, their
effectiveness, and their safety.
- Officials in Massachusetts have
decided that aluminum bats can be dangerous. A ball hit
by an aluminum bat has a greater speed than a ball struck
by a wooden bat. As a result, Massachusetts's officials
have banned aluminum bats from high school tournaments.
The ban is only for this year, but they have recommended
that aluminum bats be banned from all high school games
in the future.
Before final action is taken, the
governor wants more research. Do aluminum bats have more
energy? Do they give up more of their energy to the ball
than wooden bats do? If so, why? The governor wants real
numbers from real scientists.
There is no question that aluminum
bats cause greater ball speed. You and the other
scientists who have been hired to work on this problem
have decided to start with the basics. You will determine
the density of the two materials. Compare the density of
wood with the density of aluminum to explain whether you
think density affects the difference in ball speed. You
will also recommend further testing if
- Read Fundamentals
- What is Density? and
- How is Density Measured?
Then, design and conduct an experiment to compare the
density of wood with the density of aluminum.
- Once you have collected and
analyzed your data, write a postcard to the governor's
office telling what you found. Did you discover a
significant difference in the densities of the two bat
materials? Is there a connection between material density
and ball speed? Is that the only factor that can explain
the difference between aluminum bats and wooden bats?
List other things that should be tested next.
This activity was developed
by the Event-Based Science Institute with generous
support from the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. A
version of this
and all other baseball/physics activities is available
free from the EBS Institute. This activity was written by
Nancy Ehrlich, science teacher at Cabin John Middle
School, Potomac, MD.
© 2003-12 Event-Based Science Institute