PHYSICS ACTIVITY
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The Home Run Pitch

Purpose

To determine whether or not a pitched ball can be hit farther than a ball on a tee.

Materials

Batting from a Tee

The Story
Not many people know Luke Mamer. Luke won a championship at Major League Baseball's All-Star week in Chicago, but only his parents and friends noticed.
That's because Luke was one of over 450,000 boys and girls from 7 to 14 years old who took part in the annual Pepsi Pitch, Hit and Run Contest. Luke and three other winners each won an age-group title.
In the Pitch, Hit, and Run Contest, contestants show their ability by:
  • throwing strikes from 45 feet
  • running from second, around third to home
  • hitting a baseball from a tee toward straightaway center field

After the contest all of the finalists got to shag fly balls during the Major League Home Run Derby.

What an honor!

In the Home Run Derby, Major League sluggers try to hit as many baseballs as they can over the fence. But the sluggers don't use a batting tee. The ball is pitched to them.

As the kids watched home runs fly over their heads, some of them wondered whether the Major League sluggers had an unfair advantage. They wondered whether a pitched ball travels farther when it is hit than does a ball that is hit from a tee.

You are a writer for the All-Star Week Program. The Pitch, Hit and Run Contest Committee has asked you to design a page for next year's program. They want the page to inform the public about which ball travels farther when it is struck by a bat, a moving one or one that is still.

Before writing your article you will have to investigate.

Procedure

Use the materials provided and any other materials you can find to design an experiment to test which ball will travel farther when struck with a bat, a stationary ball or a moving ball. As you design your experiment, pay careful attention to these questions:
How will you control the swing of the bat?

Should you control the point of contact?

How will you measure the distance the ball travels?

Be sure to record your results in a table or chart.

Read Fundamentals - Energy in a Collision

Conclusion

The page you are designing for the program must state which travels farther, a ball hit from a tee or a ball hit from a pitcher. Your informative, eye-catching page should also include an illustration and clearly explain the reason.

This activity was developed by the Event-Based Science Institute with generous support from the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. A teacher version of this and all other baseball/physics activities is available free from the EBS Institute. This activity was written by Christopher Yancone, teacher at Ridgeway Elementary School, Severn, MD.

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