Tippe Top Project- Engineering Physics Class


Seniors in the Engineering Physics III & IV class are assigned their first engineering design project the first day of school.  Using common materials – clay, a wooden dowel, and a ping pong ball – they must design a working tippe top.  A tippe top is a unique toy top that begins spinning as any normal top, but then flips over and spins on its spindle.  See the video attached, in slow motion of a student’s successful tippe top design.  Students use a variety of design approaches, for example, academic publications of the fundamental physics of tippe top behavior, analysis of the structure of a commercial wooden tippe top, countless trial-and-error spins, and other methods.  For the most important lesson of the project, students assess their current engineering skills, comparing the approach they used in the design of their tippe top to the approaches professional engineers use in their design and problem solving roles.  Students then begin to plan where they must focus to develop their own fully dimensional and effective engineering skill set.