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.
Liquid crystal sheets, thermochromic fun!:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW liquid crystal thermometer sheet
Thermochromic Chiral Liquid Crystals: the thin layer changes color as the molecules of the liquid crystal change orientation and spacing during the phase transition from liquid (warm) to crystal (cool).
Get the kit here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polydensity Bottle Kit
Poly Density Puzzle: my favorite science brain teaser- white beads and blue beads "float" oddly separated beneath the surface of a clear liquid. If the contents are mixed by shaking the container, the white beads gather at the top and the blue sink to bottom! Adding to the mystery; after about 30 seconds the two layers of beads will have slowly moved back to the middle. What is your guess as to the physics behind this behavior?
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 this inexpensive device here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: Static Spheres
Click here for other static electricity devices
Static Spheres: triboelectric effect toy. The red acetate spheres are given an acquired net negative charge, and their mutual repulsion allows them to jump a centimeter or more as charge is manipulated on the PET plastic container. Bringing an object near the container momentarily moves electrons (charge) around creating repulsive forces (sphere v. sphere) and attractive forces (spheres and container) resulting in the observed motions. The red spheres interact with each other without coming into physical contact (as shown in 240 fps slow motion) as like charges repel. Shaking the system a bit allows the red spheres to pick up charge in the first place by colliding with the container.
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.
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.
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!
This physics toy top is available here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Mystery Spinning Top
The amazing green magnetic viewing film is also available:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewing Film
Here is the 1974 patent showing the very simple circuit of this device. The spinning dipole (the top itself) induces a current in one of the coils, and this current is fed to the base of the transistor turning the electromagnet on when the top is near.
"Top Secret": this top will stay spinning for more than a week- because it is actually a motor! The top is a dipole magnet (as revealed by Magneview film) and the base has an electromagnet that gives the dipole a push when the top comes near the center. An ingeniously simple circuit consisting of only a battery, a coil, and a transistor, is activated when the spinning magnet nears the coil turning on the electromagnet to give a boost to the spin of the magnetic top.
Get some magnetic viewing film here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Film
Magneview Flim: making the invisible visible and revealing the hidden physics of our everyday world. Microscopic cavities in this green film are filled with oil and tiny flakes of Nickel metal- like compass needles, the flakes align with the magnetic fields revealing the complexity of the north and south pole domains of these magnets. Two of the disk magnets have multiple north and south poles and look like gears with teeth- these are rotors from small motors.
Get a set here!
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Bimetallic Jumping Disks
Bimetallic Jumping Disks: (wait for it!) slightly bowl shaped disks comprised of two thin fused sheets of different metals- each with a different coefficient of thermal expansion. If the disks are warmed to body temperature they will stay buckled if pressed- when they cool, they spring back into their original form with a sharp snap. Watch with sound on.
Get this similar demonstration kit here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW
Ice Blocks Melt Demo
Ice Melt Demonstration: Wood or Aluminum- which will melt the ice fastest and why? Both blocks start at the same temperature (room temp) and have the same shape and volume. Swipe to reveal result shown in real time (not sped up!) Hint: Although both blocks are at the same temperature, the aluminum feels cool to the touch and the wood block feels warm. Those who have taken basic physics should have an advantage on this question- one block is an excellent insulator and the other a conductor.
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.
Diamagnetic levitation kits are available here: the racetrack magnets are a bit pricey though!
From eBay: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Kit
Educational Innovations has this affordable starter kit:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Kit
Diamagnetic Racetrack: thin pyrolytic graphite sheets levitate above powerful magnets. A set of five concentric neodymium magnets, alternating N-S-N-S-N comprise the racetrack and form the trapping field. Diamagnetic substances develop temporary repulsive magnetic fields only when they are in the presence of a magnetic field from some other source. Graphite of this sort is the most diamagnetic substance known.