Kids flip over bottle stunt fad; parents not so much
What's up with that bottle-flipping trend? Kids demonstrate some of the tricks. (Suzanne Baker / Naperville Sun)
Noah Larson is one of millions of kids across the United States who are throwing plastic bottles at their driveway hoops instead of basketballs.
The Naperville middle school student is quick to show off video that includes him flipping a Gatorade bottle onto the ledge behind the rim of his basketball hoop. Amazingly, the bottle lands upright.
The compulsion to flip partially filled plastic bottles so they land vertical – known as bottle flipping – is spreading across the nation as more kids rush to post videos of their stunts. And they'll flip bottles anywhere – around their yards, inside houses, in the school cafeteria, before and after sports or band practice, even in waiting rooms.
Bottle flipping is just one of the tricks in Noah's "Bro-tastic" videos on the Foursomebrosome YouTube channel he created with his brothers and friends. Their goal is to emulate Dude Perfect, former high school basketball players and college roommates whose entertainment empire of trick-shot videos reaches more than 3 million subscribers.
We always did trick shots. Now we put them on video," said Noah, 11, whose water bottle video had roughly 250 views earlier this week
The trend that captured the attention of teens and young adults this summer has trickled down to younger kids, much to the chagrin of parents.
The constant thud of bottles pounding on the ground, table, carpet, hardwood floors, couch, stairs or wherever is annoying to Jen Kot, a Naperville mother of two boys.
This is nonstop. They're not allowed to play inside anymore," she said. "We had a couple of bottles on the roof.
As irritating as the noise can be, the activity has become a fun bonding time for Kot's two boys, ages 9 and 6. She said they take turns recording each other doing various tricks while flipping the bottle.
Last week their goal was to land the bottle on the back of the basketball goal.
Today it was flipping the bottle off the top of a soccer ball while making a goal kick. I've been told that it took about 30 to 40 tries but he finally did it and didn't know he did until his brother showed him the video," Kot said
Her son Langdon, 9, said it's a fun activity to do with friends. "I do it mostly for fame," he said.
I don't remember when I started bottle flipping," added Langdon, as if the bottle trend has been around for years
Eric Dunker, youth pastor at Calvary Church in Naperville, said he and his staff are always following trends to stay relevant with teens. He said bottle flipping went viral after a video of a teen competing in a Charlotte, N.C., school talent show was posted on YouTube in May.
Jumping on the bandwagon, Dunker took advantage of the popular clip to introduce his church message one week in June.
Just like the contestant in the video, Dunker strutted up to a table with the same music blaring. "The kids went wild; they knew exactly what happening because they'd all seen the video," he said.
Although the guy's bottle flip landed upright the first time, Dunker said he wasn't as lucky.
It was a pretty hilarious moment. It took me three tries and I practiced for days," he said. "It's the dumbest, simplest game.
Marc Poulos said the social media aspect is what drives his kids, ages 11 and 13, to set up their phones and use apps to make their stunts appear seamless. They want to share their exploits with friends.
I watched it clearly in real time and it did not happen that way," Poulos said
He said bottle flipping requires skill and repetition, and he likes that his children are at least moving around instead of sitting on the couch.
The bad thing is all the broken vases and other things that fall when they're trying to land a bottle on a shelf," Poulos said
Even worse for parents, as if the relentless thumping against the floor and walls weren't maddening enough, game designers have invented apps for players when no water bottle is available.
If you think hearing the actual flipping is annoying, trying hearing it on an app," said Karen Altekruse, of Naperville
Schools often try to be a bottle-flipping free zone.
Teachers, though none wanted to be quoted, said they quickly put the kibosh on flipping in the classroom because of the distraction and the fear of damaging equipment.
With more schools adopting one-to-one computers for students, teachers say broken or spilled water bottles and computers don't mix.
Officials from Naperville District 203 and Indian Prairie District 204 said teachers have full discretion to prohibit anything that disrupts the learning environment.
Flippers say the amount of water needed to optimize the flip depends on the type of bottle, somewhere between a quarter to half full.
Noah said he has flipped bottles so many times, he has a feel for the right amount. He'll make a few test tosses to determine if he needs to remove or add more water before he tries to perform a stunt on video.
Finding the perfect ratio of water and air is a very complicated interplay between fluid motion and the tendency for objects to remain spinning, according to Nicholas Mauro, assistant professor of physics at North Central College in Naperville.
Is there an optimum amount of water to put in a container to spin? Probably. Does anybody know how to calculate it? Probably not," Mauro said
The reasoning is that when water sloshes around, its motion is so complicated that you'd need supercomputers running around the clock to model it," he said
Again, how much water is ideal?
Mauro said the best bottle would be one that is thin and will crumple. "And you need to allow enough air in the bottle for the water to really slosh around. I would expect something like one third to half full is best," he said. "And of course, practice helps."
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