This is an activity for those cold and windy days that you'd rather stay inside and explore "inside science". All you need are: a sharpened pencil, a couple rubber bands, and an old cereal box or similar cardboard. It’s also helpful to have a couple jar lids, an old CD, and some pennies.
Begin by tracing a circle on the cardboard, and cut it out. Poke a pencil through the center of your cardboard disk, and wind a rubber band around the pencil both above and below the disk. That will help keep the cardboard securely in place. Now all you have to do is spin your top on a flat surface.
Now try this:
- Tape pennies on top of the cardboard. Is there a difference in how the spinner acts if you tape them close to the center or out at the edge?
- How does size affect the spinner? Trace different sizes of jar lids and plates and make many spinners to compare. Do they spin at the same speed? Do some stand up longer than others?
- What happens if you poke the pencil through the circle somewhere other than the center?
- Does it matter where the disk is on the pencil? High? Low? Center?
- Will a square spinner work as well as a circle? What about a triangle?
- Here's how to make a penny spinner.