Flippity Flip, Bottle Flip!

How are all these middle schoolers/grade 9s landing these bottle flips?

Before today I hadn’t seen any of our students doing this bottle flipping thing! But I had a feeling they had all done it before. Today we started an activity with watching trick shots of bottle flips and will end with us creating and solving linear equations.

I showed this video:

My students wanted to argue that some of the tricks were fake…. but they were glued to watching. They all had tried flipping bottles before and some said they were amazing at it.

I had a full water bottle with me and asked if I could flip this. They all shouted that it was too full. I tried flipping and it was a no go. So I cracked it open and drank a few gulps. “Nope….you still won’t be able to flip that Mr. Orr — too much water still.” Again, I tried flipping it and nope. Still not even close. “Mr. Orr you probably won’t be able to flip it even if it had the perfect amount of water.”  So I took a few more swigs. “Still no good sir.” As I was chugging….someone yelled out for me to STOP! I did…..then flipped that bottle…. and…..Boom! The class was blown away!

I had them log into a simple Desmos activity that asked them to choose which bottle would be ideal for flipping.


Almost everyone had chosen yellow.

The next slide had them moving a line to show the water level and then having them estimate how many ml would be ideal.


Students were estimating between 100 and 200 ml.

“I think it’s 125 because that would be a quarter of the bottle. I think a quarter is the perfect amount of water.”

“I think it’s not 250ml because it has to be less than half…..but I think it’s not exactly half of that….so half of 250 is 125….but I’ll say 150ml.”

I shared all of their guesses:


They kept asking if they were going to get to flip any bottles?? I said, “This is math class….do you think we flip bottles in math class?”

Then I broke out the bottles.

Here is the plan. We are going to have a bottle flipping contest. Rules:

  • Draw a line on your bottle where you think the ideal amount of water should be. Determine how much water to put into it in ml.
  • When you know how much water you need record it on our chart….put exactly that much water in there.
  • You must use your bottle for the contest.

Here are some pics of them working on this first part.

img_2250 img_2248 img_2247 img_2243 We had just enough time in this class to determine our volume, fill the bottle to verify it met the line, and practice flipping for about 10 minutes.

Part 2: The Contest

Students complete in five one minute trials. Recording how many “lands” they get each trial. screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-1-37-07-pm

We average those five trials to develop your “Landing” equation! Who was the winner? What does their graph look like?


We use that equation to solve some problems. How many after ____minutes? How long will it take to make 100 lands? What does the equation look like if you have a head start of 5 lands?

I’ve modelled this lesson structure after this Paper Tossing activity and ultimately after Alex’s Card Tossing activity.

Featured Comment:


 Well I am a middle school student and I go to chesnee middle school and I think that I just might show this to MY math teacher even though I don’t like math but you just made me want to like math. I’m in the sixth grade.

Distance-Time Graphs – Gallery Walk

The last few semesters I ran this two-day lesson on distance-time graphs. Today I added a new twist on Day 2.

Recap: Day 1 – A few prediction videos on water height in a cup vs. time. Then WATERLINE by Desmos!

Day 2:  Today

Warm Up – We reviewed the previous day’s work by choosing one of the cups from the picture and drawing a water-height vs. time graph.

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Not surprisingly, no students chose to draw the graph for the Stanley Cup. After they make their sketches we dove into using the CBR Rangers from Vernier just like on Day 2 from the previous post. They walked in front of the Ranger taking various different walks and we all saw their distance-time graphs in real-time. For each walk the students made prediction graphs on their whiteboards before seeing the live graph.

I wanted more predictions from them so I showed them a video I made. They were to watch the video and make a prediction graph of my distance away from the camera vs. time.

After take up of this graph they were to create their own video on the iPads. Each pair of students we’re given a scenario to film that described motion.

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Here are two motion videos they filmed: Very basic to start!

They had to create their distance-time graph and hide it under the flap on the vertical whiteboards.

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Pairs then went on a gallery walk. They watched each student made video, graphed the matching distance-time graph and then checked the answer under the flap.

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Kids enjoyed it and they practiced lots of different distance-time graphs.

Thanks for reading!!!


Knot Again!

I am loving Alex Overwijk’s Knot activity more and more.
Go ahead and read about it!

Ropes of Different Thickness & Equal Lengths

I’m a huge advocate for having kids get their hands dirty and try things out. This one is particularly awesome because students get to experience how the rope length changes. They get to feel and create that change.

For those of you who don’t have ropes….or use this after the activity as part of a consolidation.
Problem 1- Solving a linear equation.
Act 1

Knot Again! Act 1 from jon orr on Vimeo.

Act 2
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Act 3

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