Bottle "Tops"

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In this physics activity about rotational inertia, learners use a spinning top made out of a bottle cap and a nail to explore how changing the axis of rotation affects how the energy is used. You can also hold a competition to see whose top spins the longest!

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • Crown cap from a glass soda bottle
  • Thin nail
  • Hammer
  • Permanent markers of different colors


  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Energy and Power
    • Motion and Forces
      • Rotation Motion

Informal Categories

  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, COSI Columbus, 2009