Educational Innovations

Reaction Rocket

The essence of a great physics toy: simple design showing comlex physics 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Reaction Rocket 

Reaction Rocket: projectile launch via momentum transfer in slow motion. The superball/straw base bounces off the table top and then immediately collides with the bottom of the rocket sending it off with a velocity slightly less than 3 times the velocity of the rising ball (true if the ball is more than three times the mass of the rocket). Newton's third law in action! Note that the rocket rises much higher than the drop height (up to 9 times higher).

The Dancing Helix

Get one here! Chose your color scheme and length, all come with the special motor and operating instructions:

From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: Dancing Helix

The Dancing Helix: This kinetic mobile's mesmerizing motion arises from pulsed torsion waves that propagate up and down the length of a series of weighed rods connected by an elastic ribbon (which acts as a torsion spring). The waves arise by a special pulsed motor from which the strand hangs, and only spins for a second or so out of each minute. The twisting waves then constructively and deconstructively interfere creating an array of flowing motions.

Beat Interference Chimes

Get a set here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Beat Interference Chimes 

Wikipedia: Features a nice introduction and helpful graphics explaining the physics of this beat interference phenomena

Beat Interference Chimes: these aluminum chimes resonate at slightly different frequencies. When both chimes are struck the sound waves interfere both constructively and deconstructively producing the interesting wavering sound called a beat. The beat frequency- the rate at which the sound goes loud to quiet- is equal to the difference between the frequencies of the two chimes. The same physics applies when tuning a guitar using fifth and seventh fret harmonics.


Exothermic Crystallization Heat Pack

Available in many sizes and colors: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Click Activated Resuable Heat Pack 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Click Activated Reusable Heat Pack 

Exothermic Crystallization Heat Pack: real-time instant crystallization of a supercooled solution. Solid sodium acetate melts at 137F (58C), but it will stay in liquid form as it cools to room temperature creating a supersaturated and supercooled state- the solution stays in the liquid form until a seed crystal, provided by clicking the metal disk, initiates the solidification. The resulting white crystal is actually quite hot; solid states have lower energy than liquid states and thus the difference in energy is given up as heat that raises the temperature back up to the melting temp, and you can see in the few seconds of the video that the temperature rises from 26C to 34C. This pack is reusable many times- just boil the pack until all the crystal is melted to reset. 

Newtons Yo-Yo

Get a set here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Newton's Yoyo 
 

Newton Yo Yo: Newton's 3rd Law states that action force equals opposite reaction force- the the green and yellow spheres have equal mass, so the forces of the collision provide accelerations that are equal and opposite such that the spheres trade places.

Birefringence in Calcite

Get a sample here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal 
From eBay: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal 

Get inexpensive polarizing filters here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polarizing Filter Sheets

Birefringence in Calcite: the speed of light in a calcite crystal depends on polarization- the refractive index is different depending on the polarization orientation of the light transmitted through it. As a polarizing filter is rotated 90 degrees, one image appears and the other vanishes, showing that the polarization orientation of the light of the two images is indeed perpendicular. In addition the elegant rhombohedral nature of calcite crystals is obvious in this sample. 


Three Polarizing Sheets

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. 

Nitinol Memory Wire

Get a sample from these sources: 
From Ebay: BUY NOW Nitinol Memory Wire shape sample 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Nitinol Memory Wire Spring 

Nitinol Memory Wire: this alloy of nickel and titanium can be trained to a specific shape at high temperature- then bend it up at room temperature and it will snap back into shape when exposed to moderate heat such as hot tea water. This remarkable property is a type of solid state reversible phase transition known as a martensitic transformation. 
 

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Memory Spring

Available here: 
From Mindsets: BUY NOW 
Memory Springs 

Affordable samples and kits here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: Energy Wire 

Similar produces featuring Nitinol Memory Wire: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Nitinol Memory Wire Kits 

Memory Spring: some special alloys of brass can be made to have a shape memory triggered by temperature. These springs quickly change their length from 1 cm to 2.5cm when heated above 90 C (done here with hot water) and just as quickly shrink back to original size when cooled (immersed in cold water). Useful in many applications, especially things like automatic fire sprinkler valves and thermostats in car engines. This amazing property is related to a solid state phase transition similar to that of Nitinol wire called a Martensitic transformation.

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Drinking Bird Heat Engine

Get this famous physics toy from these sources: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW 
Drinking Bird Engine 

From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Drinking Bird Engine 


Wikipedia has wonderful details about the rich history (and further descriptions of the operational principals) of the Drinking Bird
Drinking Bird Heat Engine: time lapse of 15 minutes into 15 seconds (4 cycles). Cooling by evaporation at the head leads to lower pressure in the top bulb, the dichloromethane fluid rises up the neck making the bird top heavy and the bird tips over dipping its beak and letting the fluid return to the bottom bulb. The time lapse allows a clearer picture of how the fluid rises, shifting the center of mass, and how tipping makes the glass column lift out of the fluid in the bottom allowing the pressure to equalize and letting gravity pull the fluid to return to the base. Process repeats as long as the top stays wet. So much physics in one hypnotic toy!


How a Slinky Falls

Get the classic here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Mini Slinky 

Get a giant version of the slinky here! 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Giant Slinky: Super Wave Spring 

How a Slinky Falls: amazing physics demonstration with this classic toy. The center of mass of the slinky spring falls with an acceleration of g- note in this slow motion video that the bottom of the slinky does not move until the spring is fully collapsed. Hooke's law plus gravity! 

Spring/Latch Polymagnets

Avilable here: 
From Polymagnet.com: BUY NOW 
Spring/Latch Pair Demo 


Get some magnetic viewing film here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Viewing Film 

From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Viewing Film 

Spring Latch Polymagnets: this pair of coded magnets attract but don’t touch in a state of stable equilibrium at a distance of 1/2 cm- but if one magnet is turned a half twist they latch together. Magnetic viewing film reveals the specific and complex arrangement of N and S poles that allow for this set to act like a spring or a latch (although only if constrained to an axis along their centers). 


Pop Pop Boat

Get one here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Pop-Pop Boat 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Pop-Pop Boats 

Wikipedia has the details on the physics and history of this little steamboat toy 

Pop-Pop Boat: birthday candle powered, super simple steam engine named after the sound it makes when operating. The engine is just a metal box, heated by the candle, with two pipes coming out of it. Steam builds up pushing water out with an explosive pop- which then creates a vacuum sucking more water in to repeat the process. Patented in 1915 these were very popular in the 1940's.

Polage Display

Austine has an online gallery of her amazing work. 
From Austine Studios: Polarized Light Art 

This kit has everything needed to make your own polarization art: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polarizing Film Kit 
The kit also includes a birefringent crystal, colorful optically active mica sheets, and a polarimetry demo that reveals when structures are under stress. A great value for so much physics fun! 

Sometimes Austine's work can be found on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Polage by Austine 

Here is a very nice discussion about polarization that pertains to Polage: Experiments With Polarized Light by Donald E. Simanek 

Polage Display: art with polarized light using polarizing sheets and cellulose to create changing forms and colors. Rotation of the filter allows the artist to produce colorful metamorphosis. This piece was created by Austine Wood Comarow- the main developer of this art form- as part of a campaign to promote Maui Jim polarized sunglasses. Light has an orientation, denoted as polarization, and a polarizing filter can be used to block certain orientations. The colors in polage come from how the molecular structure of plastics can rotate the polarization of any light that passes through- but only light corresponding to yellows and greens gets rotated in plastic, reds and blues not so much. Polage uses different layers of plastic to rotate the light, and then polarizing filters are added to allow only certain frequencies (colors) of light through.

Hand Boiler

A variety of shapes and colors are available 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW 
Hand Boilers 

From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Hand Boilers 

Hand Boiler: liquid-gas phase transition. The boiling point of dichloromethane is slightly below body temperature - heat from a hand increases pressure in the bottom bulb pushing the purple (dyed) liquid through the glass pipe to the top.