Get this easy to assemble kit here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Simplest Motor Kit
Electric Motor: in its simplest form!- coil, magnet, and battery. The wire of the coil has an insulating coating- and this coating is carefully scrapped off one side on each end. When current passes through the coil it becomes an electromagnet and the permanent magnet repels it making it spin- as it turns the currents goes on and off depending if the copper posts are in contact with the bare wire (current on) or the still insulated wire (current off). I have motors with fewer parts- but they operate on more complex principles.
Samples available here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Ironwood Samples
Buoyancy Discrepant Event: wood that sinks and a rock that floats!- a study in density properties of ironwood and pumice.
This device is sold as the "Static Shocker" hands on lab. Get one here for $8.95! :
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Static Shocker Mini Van de Graaff
The device can use an empty aluminum can for the top electrode which works- but this $9 hollow steel sphere looks and works even better- I used the 80mm sphere:
From eBay: BUY NOW Hollow Steel Sphere
Van de Graaff Generator: this miniature electrostatic generator can create potentials of more than 50,000 volts allowing sparks to jump a couple centimeters through dry air. Similar physics to the sparks created when shoes scuff on carpet, a moving rubber dielectric belt carries electrons away from the top sphere leaving it positive charged- as can be seen by the electrostatic repulsion of some Mylar strands. A small battery powered 3V motor drives the belt via the bottom pulley in this unit that costs less than $10 US.?With appreciation to @educational_innovations for sending me this device!
Rave math fun for only $6.95!
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Twin Fan LED
Twin Fan Lissajous: two rotating fans with LED lights form Lissajous figures when spun around common axis. The rate and direction of spin determines the shape of the figure. With the image flash rate above the flicker fusion frequency (as it is here, above 16Hz) our vision perceives connected curves. Looks even more amazing in person!
Get some of these grow-spheres here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Growing Spheres
Poly-acrylamide Polymer Vanishing Act: these spheres of hydrophilic polymer have an almost identical index of refraction as that of water- thus when submersed they become invisible. Note the elasticity of these spheres from the way they bounce, while at the same time they refract their surroundings as a spherical lens. The super absorbent spheres start as hard crystals with a radius of 2mm and grow to 11mm when immersed in water. So much physics going on here!
Get some polarizing filter sheets here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Polarizing Sheets
Explore many aspects of polarization with this kit:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polarizing Filter Demo Kit
See this short introduction to linear polarizing filters on Hyperphysics, and many more details on polarization from Wikipedia.
Three Polarizing Sheets: quantum mechanical behavior with light polarization. Two linear polarizing sheets oriented at 90 degrees blocks all light- if a third sheet is placed between, oriented at 45 degrees, an eighth of the original light then gets through! A classic example of the quantum mechanical phenomenon of superposition of states as it pertains to the polarization orientation of photons and probability of transmission.
Here is an affordable version of this device:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Flow Ring
The original version is available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Toroflux
Get one and flow with it!
From Art of Play: BUY NOW
Why does it look like a bubble when moving fast? Wikipedia has the details: when the object exceeds a certain speed the flicker fusion frequency of our vision produces the bubble illusion.
The physics of the toroflux is wonderfully illustrated and explained in this article by Daniel Walsh.
Toroflux: kinetic art toy made from a single continuous loop of stainless steel band. The band of spring metal is woven such that it forms a torus that can clamp on to and roll down a stick, segment of tubing, or even an arm. Amazing combination of math and kinetic art invented by Jochen Valett.
Get one here!
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW PhiTOP
From Amazon: BUY NOW PhiTOP
The PhiTOP: spinning things often have surprising physics! This unique top is made of solid aluminum in the shape of a prolate elIipsoid- and the name of the top is derived from the following design requirement: the ratio of the semi minor (short) axis to the semi major (long) axis is made equal to the mathematical constant the golden ratio φ (phi). Invented by astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, this top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippy-top.
Radiometers are available from these sources:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Radiometer
A wide variety available here, including some nice blown glass displays:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Radiometers
Hundreds of options on eBay:
From eBay: BUY NOW Radiometers
US Patriotic Radiometer: 4th of July physics toy on this 242th year since the the Declaration of Independence. Produced in the 1970s by Kyp-go (maker of Balafire bulbs) the images spin with kinetic energy converted from light. Light heats up the "vanes" which then heat up the very thin gas left in the bulb- the black side of the vane is hotter and any gas molecules that come into contact with it fly off at a faster speed imparting impulse to the rotor. Radiometers with special vanes like this are no longer in production but sometimes pop up for sale online as antiques.
Get some magnetic viewing film here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Film
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Film
Magnetic Poles of Refrigerator Magnets: visualizing the invisible with Magnaview film- the secrets of refrigerator magnets revealed. A special orientation of the magnetic poles called a Halbach array allows for a strong magnetic field on one side and a very weak one on the other- refrigerator magnets only stick on one side by design!
Available from this shop in Germany:
From experimentis-shop.de: BUY NOW Tiny Tippie-Top
Educational Innovations has reasonably priced, regular sized, wood tippe-tops in their shop:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Tippe-Tops
From Amazon: BUY NOW Tippe-Tops
Tiny Tippe-Top: spinning things often have surprising physics! The smallest functioning version of the famous flip-over top I've ever seen. Friction with the mirror provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over. The top will stay flipped until the spin rate slows down enough to where its center of mass pulls it back to the resting position.
This metal version is available here:
From KJ Beckett: Metal Rattleback
These acrylic versions work great and are inexpensive:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Rattlebacks
From Amazon: BUY NOW Rattlebacks
Stainless Steel Rattleback: prefers to spin counter clockwise. If spun clockwise, a complicated combination of friction, precession, and instability induced vibrations transforms the rotational energy into into rattling (energy of oscillations) and then into rotational energy in the opposite direction! This behavior is related to the asymmetric shape of the bottom of this kind of rattleback, it's somewhat propeller shaped with an "S" curve along the bottom ridge.
This particular sculpture is no longer available, however, Educational Innovations has this nice and affordable starter kit:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Kit
Dramatic diamagnetic levitation kits are available here: the racetrack magnets are a bit pricey though!
From eBay: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Kit
Diamagnetic Trap Sculpture: a thin disk of pyrolytic graphite hovers and spins in stable equilibrium over a bullseye configuration of magnetic poles. Diamagnetic substances become temporary magnets while immersed in an external magnetic field, and the created diamagnetic field always opposes the external field (in contrast to ferromagnetic substances like iron which attract). Graphite of this type is one of the strongest diamagnets known, and will levitate over a powerful array of neodymium magnets. ✨With sincere appreciation to Tim Rowett for this kind gift.
Available in "pro" metal version and colored rings version:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Jitter Gyro Ring
From eBay: BUY NOW Color Jitter Gyro Ring
Jitter Gyro Ring: a 1990s skill toy craze out of New Zealand that features small rings that "roll" down a thicker steel ring and making a characteristic chattering sound as they go. Swiping the small rings gets them spinning and gives them angular momentum. Centripetal acceleration then keeps the inside of the small rings in contact with the steel ring so that they roll around as they descend (seen here in 240fps slow motion). The challenge is to rotate the large ring fast enough to keep the small rings in motion.
Plasma globes are now available in many sizes and levels of quality. Here is a source for reasonably priced quality globes:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Plasma Globe
From Amazon: BUY NOW Plasma Globes
Plasma Globe: low pressure noble gasses exhibit glow discharge from high voltage, creating plasma filaments that rise upward due to heating- shown here in slow motion. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode and the metal coated glass globe. Current flow through the thin gas produces the colorful emission spectra from the gasses