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Family Math Activity: Fun Bottle Flipping Experiment

A water bottle with sparkly blue water stands alongside colorful plastic blocks in two towers and two post-its labeled "stands" and "falls."
A water bottle with sparkly blue water stands alongside two towers of colorful plastic blocks representing the number of "stands" and "falls" in this fun bottle-flipping game. | Yesenia Prieto
This bottle flipping math activity introduces data analysis in a fun and easy way for young learners.
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Esta actividad también está disponible en español.

By now, you’ve probably heard of the water bottle flipping challenge. Children can spend countless hours tossing a water bottle in the air, attempting to make it land upright. This bottle flip math activity introduces young children to data analysis in a fun and easy way. Children will practice organizing, representing and interpreting the results from their bottle flip experiment.

Learning Goal

This activity will help your child:

  • Practice making predictions
  • Collect, organize and interpret data
  • Make a model to represent data

Materials

  • Plastic water bottle
  • Items to decorate your bottle (e.g. stickers, glitter, food coloring tabs)
  • Paper
  • Marker or another writing utensil
  • 20 blocks
An empty plastic water bottle is laid out on a table alongside plastic blocks, stickers, a sheet of paper, a marker and a glitter container.
An empty plastic water bottle is laid out on a table alongside plastic blocks, stickers, a sheet of paper, a marker and a glitter container.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Get creative! Decorate your plastic water bottle with stickers, glitter, food coloring tabs (to color the water), markers, or anything else you have around the house. Fill one-fourth of the bottle with water.

2. Create a tally chart to record your results. Draw a line down the center of the paper. On one side, write “Falls” and the other side “Stands.”

3. Ask your child to predict (or guess) how many times the bottle will stand and fall if you toss it 20 times. Dig a little deeper by asking questions such as: “Will the bottle stand or fall? How many times do you think it will fall or stand? Why do you think that?” Write down your predictions on your chart.

4. Start your experiment. Flip the bottle 20 times. After each bottle flip, make a tally mark in the “Stands” column if the bottle stands up when it lands or a tally mark in the “Falls” column if the bottle falls when it lands. You can group tallies by fives for easy counting.

A white sheet of paper is divided into two columns labeled "falls" and "stands." There is a decorated plastic water bottle next to it.
You can track the number of times the water bottle stands and falls on a piece of paper divided into two columns.

5. Create a model of your results using blocks. Count out the number of blocks for the number of times the bottle fell, stack the blocks in a tower and set it on a flat surface or base plate. Count out the number of blocks for the number of times the bottle was able to stand, place the blocks in a tower and set it next to the other block tower. Label your block towers to make it easy to understand what each tower means.

6. Talk about the results with your child. Here are some questions you can ask: “Did the water bottle stand or fall more times? How can you tell? Which block tower has more? How many more?” Refer back to your predictions. “Did you guess how many times the bottle would stand correctly? Was your prediction close to the actual results?” Compare the block model and tally chart. “Does the block model show the same data as the tally chart?”

Keep the Conversation Going

Discuss with your child how else you could represent the data to show this information to others with questions like, “Could you draw pictures of the water bottle falling or standing? Could you use sticky notes or candy?”

Book Suggestions

  • “Shoes, Shoes, Shoes” by Ann Morris
  • “Tally O’Malley” written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Cynthia Jabar
  • “The Best Vacation Ever” written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott

Corresponding Standards

Common Core State Standards

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.
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