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Science Rocks!

Coin Sorter


your results

Sent in by:
Erin of Owatonna, MN

Sort your change the easy way!

Materials Needed

  • a jar of change
  • shoe boxes or other cardboard boxes
  • construction paper
  • cardboard tubes
  • string
  • masking tape
  • scissors
  • sharpened pencils
  • paper



  1. You could use your hands to sort through the change in your piggy bank, but it would be faster if you built a coin sorter to do the work for you.
  2. Make your coin sorter using just cardboard boxes, paper, tape, cardboard tubes and string.
  3. Sketch your design ideas on paper before you begin building. Think about the problem you are trying to solve. Consider the different ways you could sort coins like by weight, size, sliding ability, or shape.
  4. Once you decide on a design, begin building. Do you have to change your design as you build? Why? What challenges do you face as you build that you didn't think about when you were sketching your design? What changes did you make? Did your design changes solve the problem?
  5. Test out your design with your spare change. Does it work? Do you need to make more changes? Be sure to share your results with the rest of the ZOOMscientists!

What else can you sort? Could you sort your toys or separate the raisins from your cereal? If you come up with some interesting problems to solve, and some ideas for solutions, be sure to send them to ZOOM.

Some of your Results

Allan, age 14 of San Jose, CA wrote:
When you make the holes circular they almost never make it through properly. You have to make a star shaped hole to make it work. Remember the star should have a 'middle' diameter smaller between the next largest coin but a little bigger than the coin itself. Also, you have to put the holes in this order: dime, penny, nickel, quarter, dollar piece, half dollar peice (I have a lot of these but you probably can leave the dollar and half dollar piece out). The tricky part is sizing the star for the penny and dime, which are almot the same size. in mine, I made them use the same hole hand made a seperate sorter of them.

Michael, age 11 of Calgary, AB wrote:
It fine but since in Canada we have a 1 dollar coin and the 2 dollar coin and those two had a problem.

Esmeralda of San Antonio, TX wrote:
I have two banks. The first one I have is for sorting quarters, nickels, and dimes. The other one is for sorting pennies.

Bridget, age 9 of New Orleans, LA wrote:
the coins moved but did not stay together as a group.

Francis, age 5 of Daly City, CA wrote:
The money went out when I first built it. Then I tryed it again and it did mel-function and I was suprised.

Jasmin, age 11 of Indianapolis, IN wrote:
it is so much better than haveing a piggybank

ZOOM Fan, age 10 of Chicago, IL wrote:
i made holes in cardboard that were different sizes so only cretain coins could get in and it worked. I put my left over lunch money in it so I can buy something special. I loved this project

Alejandra of Garden Grove, CA wrote:
It stayed in an exellent shape didn't break or bend.

Jill, age 10 of San Jose, CA wrote:
The coin sorter really worked for me. Especially because I love to collect coins. I helped my brother and cousins make there own coin sorter and they loved it as well.

Luis, age 15 of San Jose wrote:
My brother ans I did this ans it came out great. I told my teacher about it and we tried it in our class thanks I love this web site.

Emily, age 11 of NJ wrote:
It worked out great! Thanks for the idea!

Stephanie, age 11 of Carlsbad, NM wrote:
Did not work even after I tried it 10 times.

Shuntonese, age 11 of Chicago wrote:
It didn't work because my holes were to big.

Krishna, age 6 of Cupertino, CA wrote:
I made a sorter for quarters with my dad. We got most of the quarters, but some quarters fell down with the pennies and the nickels and dimes in the hole. I have some foreign coins like francs. The francs fell down too.

Kanesha, age 12 of Chicago, IL wrote:
It sorted out all of the change into dimes, pennies and others.

Mikaela of Sinking Spring, PA wrote:
Sometimes the cions got stuck, but all of them succesfuly made it through.

Liam, age 8 of Hollis, NH wrote:
I sorted the coins and cents.

Porsha, age 9 of Baltimore, MD wrote:
When I tried sorting the coin the smaller coins would go into the bigger coin slots.

Lauren, age 12 of Palmer, AK wrote:
Im here to tell you that the coin sorter really worked. Instead of pennies scatterd on my bedroom floor, they're now in an amazaing shoe box.

Lizzie, age 11 of Forsyth, IL wrote:
It really works! Now my ten minuites of coin sorting are over!!!

Heather, age 12 of Harahan, LA wrote:
It reallyworked!! It helped me sort all my change!

Nicholas, age 12 of Los Lunas, NM wrote:
When I put the chang in the coin sorter it did work. The coin sorter sorted them out and put in the right spot.

Arthur, age 9 of Falls Church, VA wrote:
It was really cool! My dad and I did it and it worked really good!

Kateryna, age 9 of New York, NY wrote:
You want to know what happened? Well, at first there were holes at the bottom and the coins fell into each others places. I filled the holes with tape. Was it a good thing to do? Well after the holes were filled it stopped the coins from falling into each others places. This helped me orgnize and count money. It worked out really well!

Blanca, age 8 of San Ysidro, CA wrote:
When I sorted the coins the penny and the nickles were seperated.

Amy, age 8 of Houston, TX wrote:
It worked pretty well but I figured out it works better if there are less coins to sort.

Sarah, age 11 of Brownsville, TX wrote:
When I did the coin sorter it really helped me, because I had a lot of change mixed together. That needed sorting.

Hope, age 10 of Milltown wrote:
When I made a coin sorter I made a hole so everything when down but the $2. 00 peices. Then I made a hole so the $1. 00 peices could not go into the 5 cent place. After I made a hole so the penneys and the dimes could get out of the five cent place. Then I made one more hole so the dimes could go into place.(When I did my coin sorter I put cardbord in every place.)

Tyler, age 12 of San Leandro, CA wrote:
I seperated quarters from dimes.

not yet implemented