Fun Things to Do with Old Bowling Balls

by Nicole Schmoll, Demand Media

    If your bowling ball is no longer suitable for throwing down a lane, don't throw it away; turn it into something beautiful. After they're done knocking down pins, bowling balls can be put to work demonstrating scientific principles, adorning garden ponds or living room tables and enjoying second lives as vibrant garden art.

    Science Experiment

    Use two old bowling balls of different weights to demonstrate the scientific principle of density. Fill an aquarium with water and get two old bowling balls -- one weighing more than 12 lbs. and one weighing less than 12 lbs. Gather your children or class and ask what they think will happen when you place the heavier bowling ball into the tank. Place it gently on the surface and watch it sink to the bottom of the tank, which is what many people watching the demonstration probably think will happen. Ask what they think will happen when you place the lighter ball into the tank. Gently set it on the surface of the water and watch in amazement as the lighter ball floats. Explain the science behind it -- the lighter bowling ball is less dense than the water in the tank and so it floats while the heavier ball is more dense, which caused it to sink.

    Gazing Balls

    Looking glasses or gazing balls often occupy the center of a wax museum or carnival's presentation of an automated fortune teller. Transform old bowling balls into crystal balls of your own and place them around your yard for decoration. Place them atop PVC piping equivalent in length to the depth of your pond to make creative, floating objects in the pond. Break up pieces of mirror or colored glass and glue them to the surface of the bowling ball. Fill the ball holes with caulk. Coat the ball in grout, wait a few hours and wipe excess grout away to reveal a stunning mosaic design on an object that no longer looks anything like an old bowling ball.

    Garden Art

    Think of objects that are round and sit on the ground, like ladybugs and turn your old bowling balls into garden art. Paint the balls red then lay two strips of painter's tape down the center so that they fan out from each other. Paint the space in between the tape black and add black circles around the ball to give the ladybug its spots. Fill the thumb holes with black caulk and set two eight-inch long pieces of copper wire into the caulk while it dries. Attach a Styrofoam ball painted black onto the end of each wire for antennae. Give the ladybug googly eyes, if desired, for a silly touch. Another creative idea for bowling ball garden art along the same pattern as the ladybugs is bumble bees.

    Creative Centerpieces

    Another creative idea for re-purposing your old bowling balls is to turn them into centerpieces for weddings, banquets or even an end-of-the-year bowling league awards ceremony. Keep it as simple as filling the thumb holes with floral foam and sticking either fresh or silk flowers into them or paint the bowling balls to match the colors of the teams in your bowling league. Glue beads, sequins or patches onto the sides of the balls to represent team logos or give the balls creative flair. If a bride and groom met bowling, dress up old pins and balls and use them for imaginative centerpieces at the rehearsal dinner or reception.

    About the Author

    Nicole Schmoll is a freelance writer in Omaha, Neb., who has been writing professionally since 2005. Specializing in gardening, religion, communication and marketing, she has been published in "Woodmen Living," the "Journal of Current Issues in Research and Advertising" and various online publications. Schmoll holds a Master of Arts in communication.

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