Making your own papercupter

Next time you are finished using a paper cup, create your own papercupter!

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Here is how to make your own papercupter!

Find a recycled paper cup…

A red paper cup. Image: Andy Price, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Carefully remove the top lip and the bottom of the cup…

Now, let go of your papercupter and watch as it spins down to the ground.

Some papercupters are better than others! Depending on the number of flaps, the folds and the shapes of your papercupter, it might stay in the air for a longer time, it might spin faster or it might be more stable than others. The best papercupters are stable and remain spinning in the air longest.

Compete against your friends when you launch your papercupter — the one that stays in the air the longest is the winner!

Every paper cup used for this post and the contest is recycled! Thank you to the Chef and the staff of the UCL JBR canteen for helping us collect that many used cups!

Papercupter competition

Finding the best design for a papercupter is not easy as there are many designs, for instance, with longer or shorter flaps, curvier or straight, only a few flaps or as many as you can get from your paper cup. The number of different papercupters is infinite and so finding the one that spins the most or the one that stays in the air for the longest time is impossible.

There are some papercupter designs which clearly won’t work, for instance, one with flaps so small that it does not make the papercupter spin as it falls down, or one with so many flaps that they become thin strips of paper with no air resistance.

Last week we were able to play a papercupter competition (during the 2017 De Morgan Dinner) and more than 50 different designs competed against each other. The papercupters which made it to the final round had, in general, only a small number of long flaps.

Rosalba, winner of the 2017 Papercupter competition and her design for the best papercupter.

Try your own papercupter!

Different paper cups also have a different design for the best papercupter, but let us know in the comments below which was the best papercupter you could find! Also, send us your pictures and videos through Facebook, Twitter or by email!

Rafael Prieto Curiel is doing a PhD in mathematics and crime. He is interested in mathematical modelling of any social issues, such as road accidents, migration, crime, fear and gossip.
Twitter  @rafaelprietoc   Website  rafaelprietocuriel.wordpress.com    + More articles by Rafael

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