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.

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11 thoughts on “Flippity Flip, Bottle Flip!

  1. I cannot tell you much I love this and how excited I am to do it! We have had such an issue with the bottle flipping on my campus. This lesson is the epitome of making lemonade out of lemons!

  2. 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.

  3. Patricia Misner

    I told my students we were going to do a bottle flipping activity. They can’t wait! So much so, that their behaviour has been ideal every day leading up to it.
    I’ve made some adjustments to your DESMOS activity that allows the students to input their data and provide an equation for their line. I can then use the graph overlay mode to compare the results. Saves me from having to type all of the equations in and gives the students an opportunity to decide how we can determine whose line is whose.

  4. Stella S

    This is amazing! I’m definitely showing my teacher this, I may be in grade 7 but I don’t care! This is awesome!

  5. Laura

    I am looking for the custom Desmos activity by Patricia Misner. Any chance that I could get the link?

  6. Carol E

    Really want to use the Desmos activity. Can someone share this with me. I want to do this activity as the last one of the year! (next week)

  7. Dawn Anzualda

    I would really appreciate someone sharing the Desmos activity with me, also. We are already starting a water bottle flipping activity and I would like to do this as an extension. Anyone about to help?

  8. Hi, I’m about to do the bottle flipping activity and I would really like to get the Desmos activity to go with it. I’m excited to see how this goes because bottle flipping is still a thing and I know this would spark curiosity in my students.

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