"Baseketball": A Physicist Party Trick

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This trick from Exploratorium physicist Paul Doherty lets you add together the bounces of two balls and send one ball flying. When we tried this trick on the Exploratorium's exhibit floor, we gathered a crowd of visitors who wanted to know what we were doing. We explained that we were engaged in serious scientific experimentation related to energy transfer. Some of them may have believed us. If you'd like to go into the physical calculations of this phenomenon, see the related resource "Bouncing Balls" - it's the same activity but with the math explained.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • basketball
  • baseball
  • a few other balls (tennis ball, softball, superball, etc.)


  • Mathematics
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
    • Motion and Forces

Informal Categories

  • Physical Activity
  • Sports and Exercise


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Doherty, Paul