Pop Bottle Whirligig

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Learn about friction and kinetic energy with this cool spinning toy. The designer of this activity, an artist named Vollis Simpson, made his whirligig from old beer cans, but we can make ours out of plastic soda bottles. This activity has step-by-step photo instructions, along with links to let you make a virtual visit to Vollis's farm and sculpture park.

Quick Guide

  • Preparation Time: 5 to 10 minutes
  • Learning Time: 45 to 60 minutes
  • Estimated materials cost: $1 - $5 per student
  • Age Range: Ages 6 - 11
  • Resource Type: Activity
  • Language: English

Materials List (per student)

  • 4 pop bottles
  • scissors
  • permanent markers
  • coat hanger
  • plyers
  • nail
  • candle

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Toys


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Rotation Motion

To use this activity learners need to

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Components that are part of this resource

This resource is part of


Learning Technologies Center, Science Museum of Minnesota


All Rights Reserved, Science Museum of Minnesota, ©1995

Funding sources

  • Unisys
  • Science Learning Network
  • National Science Foundation



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