Jelly Bean Bottle Flipping: A Must-Do STEM Challenge
Remember a few years ago when flipping water bottles was all the rage with the kids?
Yeah, it was kind of annoying. (Well, at least my husband said so. He teaches elementary school so he was in the heart of it.)
But… There is some interesting physics going on here. In fact, I think we can make a STEM challenge out of this.
Grab some jelly beans. (This is 10 days of Easter STEM after all.) We’re flipping bottles.
Jelly Bean Bottle Flip
This was a project that my kids loved, mainly because they had permission to throw
Materials for Easter STEM Bottle Flipping
- 3 water bottles, clean and dry
- Jelly beans
How To Make Your Jelly Bean Flip Bottle
Make sure your water bottles are clean and dry. Wet bottles can make the beans stick and change how the bottle flips.
Fill one bottle pretty full with jelly beans, one half way full, and one barely full.
Jelly Bean Bottle Flipping STEM
We’re going to do a couple of experiments to encourage kids to really think about how the bottle is moving.
Yes, we could go into a whole explanation of how the bottle is moving and toss around terms like angular momentum, angular velocity, rigid body motion,
But let’s be real. My 5 year old isn’t super interested. It is important to use real terms. A lot of fear that comes from STEM can come from the new vocabulary. It really is like learning a new language. But that isn’t the goal of this particular activity.
This is about fun and observation. And it is a great way to work through the scientific method as well. There are a lot of life lessons to be found by doing science experiments.
More Activities To Try
Which Bottle Flips Best?
The first question to look at is, which bottle flips best? By that I mean which one lands upright the most.
Start with flipping each bottle 5 times. How many times did the bottle land upright? Can you draw any conclusions about how the level of jelly beans impacts the flip?
What Is the Success Rate?
This is a fun way to start introducing some data analysis with your kids. (And a great way to get older kids involved with the experiment!)
What is the success rate of the flips? This can be calculated a couple of ways, depending on what sort of information you are looking for.
You can look just at how many times each bottle lands successfully, as above. Or we can do some simple math.
One way to calculate success rate is to take the number of successful landings and divide it by the number of attempts. Then multiply the whole thing times 100 to get a percentage.
Can You Improve Your Success Rate?
Is there anything you can do to get your bottles to land more frequently? Should you throw it more gently? Harder?
Does the flick of your wrist matter? Or the angle you start at?
These are fun questions to ask and they encourage kids to throw the bottles more, which is, of course, super fun.
These questions also challenge your child to work on proprioception. Proprioception is one’s awareness of their body in space. Basically your child needs to be aware of how they are using their arm and hand to toss the jelly bean bottle.
(Learn a little more about proprioception and why sensory play, in general, is so important: The Big Benefits of Sensory Play)
I created a little worksheet for my kids to fill out to keep track of all our data. You can grab it too! It’s in my library of free printables.
Sign up here and get access to that library (the password comes to your email!) by signing up for my mailing list. (You can, of course, unsubscribe at any time.)
More Jelly Bean Challenges
If you really want to get crazy with the fun, here are a few more ideas. Challenge your children to experiment further.
- How high can you toss your bottle and have it land upright? (For sure an outdoor activity.)
- How many times can you get your bottle to land
up rightin a row?
- Draw a target in chalk on the ground. Can you get your bottle to land on the target?
Jelly Bean Fun!
This can be a really fun Easter learning activity. It’s so easy to get into! And remember, your kids are learning. Happy tossing!
Don’t forget to come back
Remember that STEM stands for:
Science: Where toddlers and preschoolers learn to observe and start to understand how the world around them works. This is where kids learn to ask questions.
Technology: Where children learn to use the tools that help them explore this world. Yes, computers and screens are a part of this, but they are not the whole story. Simple tools like scissors and magnifying glasses are a part of it too.
Engineering: Where children start to explore how things work. It’s building things like towers, and it is taking things apart to see how they fit together.
Math: Where children learn counting and number recognition. This is where we lay the groundwork of number sense. Number sense is the basic understanding that numbers have individual values and these values interact.