Tops are the tops! Let’s make our own and experiment!
Who would have thought we could blend so much science, engineering, and math into this simple little toy?
You’ve probably seen those valentines where you can punch out a circle and insert a pencil to make a top. Those are hugely disappointing. These tops, however, are COOL!
Anytime we do something cool in the classroom, we want to sneak in plenty of content with it, right? Such is the case here, and you’ll find Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards embedded in these lessons. Just look at all the activities:
Engineering: Constructing the top, drafting with tools and precision, mechanical drawing—circles, tangents, center points, diagonals, measuring angles.
Real-World Math Applications and Geometry: Probability, circumference, uncommon measurement, rpm.
Physics/Physical Science: Equilibrium, colors, axis, friction, kinetic and potential energy, precession, rpm.
Kid Biophysics: Perception and optical illusions.
These tops won’t break your piggy bank, either. They require only a plastic lid, some glue, construction paper, and a few wooden pieces you can find at any hobby store.
You’ll get written and photo instructions about how to make the top; ready-to-print math activities which examine rpm, probability, uncommon measurement, and color combinations; and notes and explanations with discussion questions on physics topics and optical illusions.
I’ve used this with my 5th grade gifted class, but it should be appropriate for 3rd grade GATE students through 6th grades.
It will take about an hour of class time to construct the tops, and several more hours more for the activities—depending on what you choose to do.