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International Top Spinning Day

International Top Spinning Day was founded in 2003 by the Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum in Burlington, Wisconsin. According to Judith Schulz, director of the museum, "The earth spins around a single axis, just as toy spinning tops and yo-yo's do." The day is meant to recognize and celebrate this scientific fact. An annual event is held at the museum, but on this day people spin tops all around the world.

Spinning tops have existed for many millennia, and appear to have originated on their own in different parts of the world. Besides being used as toys, they have also been used for prophecy and gambling. Traditionally they have been constructed out of wood, often with an iron tip. Historically many were set in motion by pulling a string or cord that was attached to their axis. They are often now made with plastic or metal, and are constructed in such a way that a pulling string is no longer necessary. They also have been improved to often include a small hard tip made of ceramic or tungsten carbide. In this case they are known as bearing tops.

How to Observe

Celebrate the day by spinning a top! Each year spinning takes place at the museum at noon, but everyone is encouraged to spin a top throughout the world at a time that is most convenient for them. The museum encourages "families, schools, nursing homes, libraries, businesses, co-workers, and scout troops" to all take part. Participants are encouraged to spin tops in unique places, such as in a boat or plane, on top of a playground slide, or on a CEO's desk. To fully participate in the day an email may be sent to the museum with a picture and information about who participated, where the spinning happened—including location and place, how many tops were spun, and how many times they were spun. This information may be used on the museum's website.

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