If you have children, grandchildren or are on Facebook then I am positive you have seen this new phenomenon of flipping water bottles. It is everywhere! Rumor has it more than one teacher has been exasperated enough with bottle flipping to issue this edict:
So what exactly IS bottle flipping? Here is how it works: you take a plastic water bottle and place a small amount of water in it and then flip it in the air and try to land it. If you are really good you will try to cap it. (That part is not for beginners :)
As a parent and a 5th grade teacher I am well aware of this activity.
As I have watched my own sons and loads of students get much enjoyment from this I thought hmmmm, how can I use that as a math lesson? A few thoughts later, and viola!
Epic water bottle challenge is born.
I had each student bring in a 16.9 oz. plastic bottle and gave them no indication of what it was for. Oh, the excitement that stirred up!
On the day of our lesson, we talked about variables (the shapes of the bottle, how each person flips it, the strength in how high it goes) then we discussed the constants (the same ounces, they each poured ¾ of a cup of water, they did it 10 times). When the instruction was given to begin, the sound of water bottles flipping rang all throughout the classroom.
But, the best part was when someone actually landed one. The cheers rose and the hands flew up!
The 5th graders had to tally how many they missed and how many they landed. Then we converted that to a fraction, then to a percent and a decimal. Once the results were tallied we then talked about how to improve your percentage. Those who were successful would show some helpful skills to those who needed it.
What did we learn? Math is everywhere, math is fun, math IS in your everyday life, you can use common household objects for a math lesson. When you can hear a 5th grader walking out of class saying, “Best math class ever!” and they are still talking about it a week later, I think it is safe to say that was a successful math lesson.
Tapping into right where students are at and using something they enjoy helps them connect to the learning that happens all around them.