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Baseball by Reed and Nick

We're Reed and Nick and baseball is our game! We've heard our coach use the term "sweet spot" when we're at bat. That's when player hits the ball at just the right spot on the bat-and whoosh!-the ball goes really, really far. Since we each use different kinds of bats, we wondered: is the sweet spot on an aluminum bat the same as the sweet spot on a wood bat?

What did we do?
We headed to The Science Place in Dallas! There we found a hands-on exhibit called Batter Up! We attached our bat to the pendulum and then adjusted where the ball hit it on the length of the bat. We tried six different spots, each 2 inches apart, on both kinds of bats to see how far the ball bounced off the bats at each spot. That showed us the sweet spot. Next we headed to the Rough Riders ballpark to knock out some hits. Batter up! Reed hit 30 balls with a wood bat and 30 balls with an aluminum bat. We put chalk on the balls and recorded where each hit connected with the bat. We also measure how far each ball flew.

What did we find out?
Our field testing confirmed what we learned at The Science Place. When we connected with the sweet spot on each bat, we got the longest hits. The average distance using an aluminum bat was longer than the average using wood bat.

What can you do?
• Try doing you own baseball investigation. Collect bats of different lengths and weights. Hit balls off of a tee using each, and record how far the average hit is using each bat. Do heavier, longer bats always make the farthest hits?

• Sometimes it's not the bat the matters, but the ball! Do an investigation into how far a certain bat can hit different kinds of balls. Collect a tennis ball, baseball, softball, racquetball, and golf ball. Go out to a ball field and take turns hitting each kind of ball. Why do some fly farther than others? How does a rubbery ball, like a racquet ball, compare to hard ball, like a golf ball?

• Use this baseball investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!