Resource 5: Lesson plan: Finding the best waste material ball

Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils

It is a good idea if you help your pupils to think about how you will judge the best ball before they start making balls from any safe, reasonably clean, waste material.

First, start with a brainstorm where you and your pupils list the qualities of a ‘good’ ball. Expect or work towards ideas such as:

A good ball is:

  1. properly round and the right size;
  2. rolls straight;
  3. bounces well;
  4. strong;
  5. soft enough to catch.

Your pupils might have some more ideas – make a list on the chalkboard.

Second, you and your pupils need to discuss how each quality can be measured.

  • Properly round and the right size: Does the ball fit evenly through a special wire or cardboard hoop of the exact/right diameter no matter which way up it is? Can you hold it comfortably?
  • Rolls straight: Measure by actually rolling – you need to decide how far to roll it along a line on the ground.
  • Bounces well: You will need to drop the balls from the same height and measure how high they bounce back to compare them.
  • Strong: This might have to be tested by actual use. How long before repair or replacement is needed?
  • Soft enough to catch’: Does it hurt your hands when you catch it?

Finally, you need to set scores for the tests you have established and then try them to see if it works (one example is given below).

You will need to develop this score sheet on the board with your pupils. You could divide your class into groups – each group to develop the scores for one property.

SCORE for the BALL 54321
Shape and sizeNearly perfect fit through hoopSlight, but even gap <1 cmUneven gap >1 cmUneven fit with big gapsTotally wrong size
Rolls straightPerfectly along the straight line<5 cm off the line 5–10 cm off the line >10 cm off line Not on the line at all
Bounce from 1.5 mAbout 1 mMore than 50 cmBetween 25–50 cmOnly about 10–25 cmHardly any bounce at all
Strong – how long it lastsLasts more than 10 minutes 5–10 minutes of use before it is damagedLasts for 2–5 minutes before it is damaged Lasts for 2 minutes before it becomes damaged Not even 1 minute of use before it needs repair
Soft enough to catch Catch easily with no hurtOccasionally causes stinging Painful after a few catches Some scratches Damages your hands – scratches and stings

Give each group time to find materials and make their ball.

Now ask each group to test their ball against the criteria. What is the score for each criteria? What is the overall score?

You may find that you and your pupils need to change the criteria once they have made their balls. This would show that they are developing critical thinking skills. They may also think of adding qualities, for instance, appearance. That also deserves some praise.

Resource 4: Ecological footprint