Spinning Water in A Bucket - Understanding Centripetal Force

We all know that water flows naturally. So what do you think will happen when you spin a bucket - what will happen when it is upside down?

Try this simple and fun activity to find out!

What you need

A plastic bucket with a handle


Step by Step

1) Fill half to two-thirds of the plastic bucket with water.

2) Predict what will happen when you start spinning the bucket. Hold the bucket's handle and start spinning in a vertical circle (ground to sky).

3) To stop, slow down as the bucket is on its downward path. Look at the amount of water left in the bucket. Is it the same as before the spin?

The water didn't spill! Why is this so?



  • By swinging the bucket in a steady vertical circle you create centripetal force.
  • If the curved motion or swing of the bucket were to stop, the centripetal force would cease and the water would spill everywhere!
  • Examples of centripetal force in action around us include - going through a loop on a roller coaster, planets orbiting around the sun and a turning car.

Check out the video of the spinning bucket activity on our IG page!