The Spinning Cups Flyer Experiment

How to Make a Spinning Cups Flyer

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You can make your Spinning Cups Flyer in literally a couple of minutes and, best of all, not only does it fly but it kind of levitates too!

What Do I Need?

  • 2 polystyrene cups
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • String
Spinning Cups Flyer - What Do I Need?

How Do I Do It?

STEP1 - Put your 2 polystyrene cups together with the bases touching and connect them up securely with some tape.

STEP2 - To power you Spinning Cups Flyer we’re just going to use some string. Get a length of string about 1.5 metres long and wrap it around your Spinning Cups Flyer.

STEP3 - Get yourself outside or somewhere where you have plenty of space. Keep hold of your string and ‘throw’ your Spinning Cups Flyer with an underarm throw.

STEP4 - Behold, your Spinning Cups Flyer almost levitates!

Spinning Cups Flyer - How Do I Do It?

What’s Going On?

Could you see how your spinning cups flyer falls a little more slowly than you might have thought that it ‘should’?

That’s all caused by the fact that it’s spinning! You can test this out for yourself by throwing your ‘Spinning Cups Flyer’ without spinning it and watching the difference. That spinning motion changes the way that the air flows around your flyer and makes it fall just that little bit more slowly.

This is caused by the Magnus effect where the spinning of the Spinning Cups Flyer changes the way that the air flows over it.

Spinning Cups Flyer - What’s Going On?
More Fun Please! - Experiment Like A Real Scientist!
  • What happens if you use different sizes of cup?
  • Could you add a little bit of weight to your Spinning Cups Flyer? 
  • How would that change things?
  • How could you modify your Spinning Cups Flyer to make it work even better?
Spinning Cups Flyer - Experiment Like A Real Scientist!
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