Educational Innovations

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). 

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.


Horizontal Hand Boiler

This device available here:

From Edicational Innovations: BUY NOW: Horizontal Hand Boiler

Horizontal Hand Boiler: liquid-gas phase transition. The boiling point of dichloromethane is slightly below body temperature and heat from a hand will induce vaporization of the liquid which increases pressure in one bulb pushing the red (dyed) liquid through the glass pipe to the other bulb. The process can repeat by switching the hand to the other side, but as both sides heat up the transfer is less vigorous. An inexpensive toy demonstrating phase changes and other thermodynamic physics. 

Magic Sun Stone

Get a magic sun stone (rough gem quality iolite) here: 

From eBay: BUY NOW: Iolite Sample
From Amazon: BUY NOW Iolite Sample 

Affordable polarization filters and other polarization physics available here: 
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! 
Get the nice display stand here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Caliper Display Stand 

Magic Sun Stone: gem quality iolite shows very strong pleochroism- its color depends on the polarization of light as it is transmitted through the crystal. The color of this rough iolite gemstone changes dramatically from clear to opaque purple as the orientation of a linear polarizing filter is rotated through 90 degrees. Also known as a "Viking sky compass" since it can detect the polarization of sunlight in the sky and thereby locate the sun for navigation even on cloudy days or when the sun is below the horizon- useful for this time of year far north. 

Viewing the Feel Flux Magnetic Field

Get this device here: 
From feelflux.com: BUY NOW Feel Flux 

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

From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Film

Viewing the Feel Flux Magnetic Field: Magneview film reveals the powerful field of the neodymium magnet as it falls with terminal velocity through the copper tube of the Feel Flux toy.


Mega Tippe-Top

Here is the mega tippe-top compared to typical tippe-tops on the market and a US quarter dollar:

Limited quantities available from the Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum of Burlington, Wisconsin 

Educational Innovations has reasonably priced wood tippe-tops in their shop: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Tippe-Tops 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Tippe-Tops 

Mega Tippe-Top: spinning things often have surprising physics. This giant version of the famous flip-over top must be launched with a string pull to give it enough rotational energy to make the flip. It is also placed on a concave mirror to keep it from wandering too far. Friction with the mirror provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over. 

Polarization Test Card

These inexpensive test cards are available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Polarization Test Cards 


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

Polarization Test Card: light has features that are invisible to the human eye, such as the orientation of its electric field (denoted as polarization), but can be revealed to us by a polarizing filter, used to block light with specific polarization orientations. Inexpensive test cards like this are often found in shops selling polarized sunglasses. The molecular structure of plastics can rotate the polarization of any light that passes through, and this card has such thin layers added to the top of the photo to create the hidden silhouettes seen here. 

 

Mini-Toroflux

There are many affordable versions 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 
The Toroflux


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. 

Mini-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 or in this case s segment of cord. This miniature version loops through itself nine times which requires the spring ribbon to twist creating a tension such that when released the spring will pop into its minimum energy state- a flower-like torus. Amazing combination of math and kinetic art invented by Jochen Valett. Thanks to Tim Rowett for sending me this rare mini version for my collection.


Radiometer in Arylic

Similar vintage items can often be found on eBay (a bit pricey though): 
From eBay: BUY NOW Radiometer in Acrylic 

Regular 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

Radiometer in Arylic: kinetic energy from light in this Eames era vintage Lucite block sculpture with encased radiometer. 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 than the colored side and any gas molecule that comes into contact with it flies off at a faster speed imparting impulse to the rotor.

US Patriotic Radiometer

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.

Tiny Tippe Top

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.