Bottle Flipping: Sydney School Encouraging Craze As Part Of Practical Maths, Science Education


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A new craze is taking over schoolyards across the country. Parents and teachers are united in their complaint that ‘bottle flipping’ is noisy, annoying and addictive. The game is about trying to flip a partially full bottle so that it lands on the ground standing up.

Some schools have banned it altogether, but others are actively encouraging it and even using it to teach probability.

Principal Greg Jones at Mona Vale Public school on Sydney’s Northern Beaches has turned bottle flipping into a competitive sport.

“We’re looking to promote activities where students are outside and not in front of a screen,” he said.

“They don’t get it right first time. It’s not like [an] Apple [iPhone] where you just get it right first time and you get a Candy Crush on the screen.”

Mr Jones is running a competition where students are invited into his office to flip a bottle three times in a row.

“If a student can come into my office and under the pressure and the gaze of me watching flip three times they get to go to the canteen,” he said.

Students like nine-year-old Tamika Birke from Mona Vale Public said it helped with their learning.

“I really like science and I like pretty much fun things so this is like pretty much both of those things mixed together,” she said.

Another student, eight-year-old Liam Monahan, said the game annoyed his mother.

“My Mum can sometimes get really irritated like when she’s resting because she had a big day,” he said. Another school, St Joseph’s in Wagga Wagga, is using bottle flipping to teach probability in maths classes.

Flipping bottles to teach probability

Year 5 teacher Lauren Hinton said she found it annoying at first.

“It’s noisy, it’s distracting and because they use the re-useable plastic bottles, they often crack so it becomes messy.”

But in the end she decided to put it to good use.

“I said if you’re going to flip bottles, let’s make it maths,” she said.

Ms Hinton said she was now using bottle flipping to teach probability, fractions and percentages.

“They were into it. Some of them asked if they could stay in at lunchtime to keep doing it,” she said.
“I got emails at night from kids who had gone home and done it again and they’ve sent me their graphs that they’ve created electronically.

“I think that’s when you really know when you’ve hit a good learning experience when they don’t realise they’re learning sometimes.”

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