Educational Innovations

Happy/Sad Spheres

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From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: Happy/Sad Balls

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Happy/Sad Spheres: one ball bounces the other stops dead. The bouncy ball is made of neoprene rubber and exhibits high elasticity. The "sad" ball is made of polynorbornene and converts almost all kinetic energy into heat and sound- approximating/demonstrating the case of a completely inelastic collision. Polynorbrene is used in vehicle bumpers, for soundproofing, vibration damping, and other applications where recoil motion is unwanted.

Drinking Bird Engine Experiment

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

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Wikipedia has wonderful details about the rich history (and further descriptions of the operational principals) of the Drinking Bird

Drinking Bird Engine Experiment: what happens if you feed a drinking bird alcohol? This experiment compares the drinking rate (time per one full engine cycle) of two identical bird devices- but the glass on the left is filled with 70% isopropyl alcohol whereas the glass on the right contains tap water. After wetting the tops of both birds we count how many times each one “takes a drink” over a 5 minute duration (shown at x6 speed). This classic physics toy is a functional heat engine where cooling by evaporation at the head/beak provides the operating temperature difference. Isopropyl alcohol has a more rapid evaporation rate than water for room temperature and low humidity- so which bird will win? 

Horizontal Hand Boiler

This device available here:

From Edicational Innovations: BUY NOW: Horizontal Hand Boiler

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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. 


WindGyro

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From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: WindGyro

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WindGyro: Spin this top up with a puff of air! Small magnets keep the top secured to the base so that a stream of air will induce rotation as the air flows through the engineered turbine blades of the elegant spiral structure. 

Static Spheres

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From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: Static Spheres

Click here for other static electricity devices

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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.

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

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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.


Van de Graaff Generator

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 

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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! 

Reverse Cartesian Diver

Glass divers available here: From Amazon: BUY NOW Glass Divers 

The reverse diver needs a bottle with a oval shaped cross section. I used the bottle from this product- it has the right shape and size and the label comes off easily: 
 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Oval Shaped Bottle Source 

Inexpensive and fun diver kits available here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Cartesian Diver Kits 

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Wikipedia has the details on the Cartesian diver (and reverse diver)

Reverse Cartesian Diver: physics puzzle (swipe for hint). On the left is a Cartesian diver- pressing on the bottle forces water into the glass diver, which then compresses the bubble in diver’s head allowing it to sink. On the right is a reverse Cartesian diver- again the bottle is pinched but this time the diver ascends- why? 

Switch Pitch Ball

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From Edicational Innovations: BUY NOW: Switch Pitch Ball

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Switch Pitch Ball: this spherical assembly changes color by turning inside out when tossed into the air. A favorite of my mechanical toys with surprising physics. Interestingly the advertisements for this toy incorrectly claim air drag is involved in the transformation. To understand why the ball inverts first note that the ball is made of multiple components hinged together. In launching the ball from the hand an upward acceleration results in a torque that pivots each component around its center of mass, causing the rotation of these components in an organized way leading to the transformation. Imagine tossing a stick straight up. If the stick is perfectly vertical upon launch it will move straight up- but if it is initially slanted at all it will also begin to rotate upon launch. Similar physics underlies the motion of each component of the ball- shown here in 240 fps slow motion. The Switch Pitch is produced by the makers of the Hoberman Sphere. 


Toroflux

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: The Toroflux

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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.

Magnetic Poles of Refrigerator Magnets

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

From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Film 

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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!

In-Feed Google 4


Stainless Steel Rattleback

Metal version is available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Metal Rattleback 

These acrylic versions work great and are inexpensive: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Rattlebacks 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Rattlebacks 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

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.

Newtons Yo-Yo

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From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Newton's Yoyo 

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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.

Jitter Gyro Ring

Available in "pro" metal version and colored rings version: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Jitter Gyro Ring 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

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. 


Bubble in Viscous Fluid Kinetic Art

This item is a vintage art piece from the 1970s and unfortunately I do not know the artist. Similar devices currently on the market include the Ooze tube:

From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: Ooze Tube 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Bubble in Viscous Fluid: vintage kinetic art piece from the 1970s- the rising bubble contorts around three ring shaped obstructions with peculiar motion. I love how this construction emphasizes the flow pattern of the air bubble. Another example of the surprising physics to be found in fluid motion.

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 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

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. 

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! 


Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

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.