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The Kid Should See This

How to skip stones, an animated explainer

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Skipping stones or stone skimming takes practice. You need a specific stone shape and a certain kind of throw to get a stone to bounce off the surface of the water a few times, but once you know those key details, it’s all about practice, patience, and a bit of physics.

The key to a good throw is spin. The gyroscopic effect stabilizes the stone, as long as it is spinning fast enough, preventing it from tipping over and falling into the water – just like a spinning top has to be spinning fast enough to stay upright. Amazingly, it’s this same gyroscopic effect that keeps the Earth spinning on its fixed axis in space.

This Splinter Studio animation for BBC Ideas, How to win at… stone skimming, describes what stone to look for, and how to start holding and throwing it with a spin and angle that sends it bouncing. This outdoor activity is a fun tie in to a physics lesson.

it's all about spin
the angle on the water
Watch this next: Is it impossible to skip a stone 89 times?

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