Shorecrest Preparatory School Blog

STEAM Activity: Bottle Flipping

Posted by Dr. Anna Baralt on Feb 22, 2017 8:00:00 AM

If you have a Middle School-aged student, you’ve probably seen him or her attempting to flip a half-full plastic bottle and land it upright on a table. You may also have asked him or her to STOP flipping said bottle - it can be distracting and potentially messy if the cap isn’t on tight!

What if I told you that this new middle school trend is really an exercise in learning the concepts of gravity and momentum? As this practice became popular at Shorecrest, our science teachers got excited about its potential for teachable moments.

Bottle flipping at the St. Pete STEAMfeset 2017
MATERIALS:

  • Various water bottles with lids
  • Water

RULES: 

  • When flipping, hold the bottle from the top.

TASK:

  • Flip the bottle over a flat surface. 
  • The goal is to land the bottle upright. 

LEARNING CONCEPTS:

  • When the bottle is tossed, it rotates, but since the water is free to flow, the fluid does not all rotate with the bottle. Instead, it sloshes around.
  • As the light bottle spins, the momentum is transferred to the heavier water, slowing the bottle down.
  • The bottle then falls with the help of gravity.

EXPLORATION QUESTIONS:

  • What happens when you flip small bottles? Large bottles?
  • Does the amount of water in the bottle matter?
  • Why can’t you flip a bottle full of water?

This is a free and fun screen-free activity to try with children, typically recommended for ages 8 and up. Better yet, host a family bottle-flipping competition!


Shorecrest is home to the annual St. Pete STEAMfest, a free family-friendly festival that encourages children's interests in STEAM subjects - Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. To learn about STEAM in the Shorecrest PK-12 curriculum, we invite you to take a personal tour with one of our Admissions Officers or Student Ambassadors. 

Schedule a Tour

Topics: DIY, STEAM