Too Cold to Play
To determine whether or not
temperature changes the distance a baseball can be
- The Colorado Rockies baseball team
has a problem. Baseballs dry out and shrink in the dry
air of the mile-high Denver climate. The smaller, lighter
baseballs tend to fly farther. Because they dry out, they
also become slicker and harder for pitchers to grip.
These two factors work together to cause poorer pitching
and better batting in Coors Field.
To solve the problem, the Rockies
are storing their baseballs in a humidor---a box
that keeps the balls from drying out. It's not always
working, but the Rockies are satisfied. Baseballs in
Denver are now within specifications.
But factors besides humidity may
change a baseball and make it perform
You are a sports reporter for the
home TV station of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs manager has
asked you to find out if early in the season, when it can
still be very cold in Chicago, the cold has an effect on
how far baseballs travel. If you find out that the
baseballs do not travel as far when they are cold, the
team plans to buy a warming box to keep the balls at a
constant 75 degrees F (23.9 degrees C) before they are
- Your first job is to design an
experiment to answer the question. Brainstorm ideas for
what you can do.
- After you have gathered the data
and know whether or not cold is affecting the flight of a
baseball, plan how you will present this on the evening
news. Prepare a script with two columns. Title the
left-hand column "SAY" and the right-hand column "SHOW."
Plan a spot that has ten different shots. Make sure that
the script clearly shows the results of the experiment
and explains why the results turned out the way they did.
Also include any implications for baseball in
evening baseball fans. You won't believe what
we've been doing today?
Close-up - Face
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
Quinn Connors, Jasmine Dyba and Amy Zimmermann - students
at Eastern Middle School, Silver Spring, MD with the
assistance of their science teacher, Ken Halperin.
Suggestions from students Jason Meer and Isaac Arnsdorf
were also incorporated.
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