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.
Choose your color and get one here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW
Hyperboloid Pencil Holder
don't forget a set of pencils:
From Amazon: BUY NOW
Colored Pencil Sets
Better yet- get some thermochromic color changing pencils!
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW
Pencil Hyperboloid: a perfect gift for any math teacher- the precisely oriented holes in this base direct 16 pencils to reveal a hyperboloid, the 3D surface traced by revolving a diagonal(skew) line, the outline of which is the conic section of the hyperbola. A doubly ruled surface for any desktop!
Similar devices available here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Mirascope
From Amazon: BUY NOW Mirascope
Mirascope: two parabolic mirrors create a 3D image above the actual object. A repost of one of my favorite physics toys ever. The image of the dice made here is not a hologram and is produced solely by reflection of light rays between special concave mirrors. Discovered circa 1969 by Landry and Elings at UC Santa Barbara.
Available from these fine sources:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer Set (get the demo set)
Similar device here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer with Magnet
Iron Filings in Silicone Oil Suspension ( Iron filing field detector ): visualizing the invisible- the magnetic field lines around a horseshoe magnet. In the presence of a magnetic field, ferromagnetic materials (such as iron) temporarily become magnets. Here the iron filings become dipole magnets and link up and align like tiny compass needles to follow and reveal the magnetic field lines associated with the permanent magnet underneath. Viscous silicone oil temporarily keeps the iron particles suspended yet allows for rotation and repositioning under the influence of the magnetic field.
Amazon lists acrylic tubing at a reasonable price: get a 2 foot long tube with an inner diameter of 1.5 inches for about $17 US. This will accommodate a large marble for the demonstration.
From Amazon: BUY NOW Acrylic Tubing
For a 1.5 inch inner diameter (3.8 cm) tube you will need a 10 inch (25.4 cm) wide sheet to complete a cylinder inside the tube.
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polarizing Film
Polarizing Filter Black Wall Illusion: two sheets of polarizing film (with polarization axes oriented at 90 degrees to each other) create this illusion inside an acrylic tube. Physics magic!
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!
This physics toy top is available here:
From eBay: BUY NOW Mystery Spinning Top
From Amazon: 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.
This kit has everything needed to make your own polariscope:
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!
Simple Polariscope: polarized light reveals the hidden rainbows due to internal stresses imposed on polymer materials such as these pieces of polystyrene flatware, a technique used to model stress distribution patterns in engineering. Place the polymer samples between two linear polarizer filters and the internal stresses created by the molding process during manufacturing produce colors through birefringence due to photoelasticity.
Get one from these fine sources:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Sand Timer
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Hourglass
Magnetic Sand Hourglass: ferromagnetic sand collects above a neodymium magnet in the wood base. Each particulate of ferromagnetic iron becomes a temporary dipole magnet in the presence of the magnetic field in the base. The tiny dipoles link up north ends to south ends, creating interesting patterns that reveal the magnetic field lines.
This vintage toy can sometimes be found on eBay.
Quality models of the modern version of this physics toy are still available
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Levitator
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Levitator
Revolution: vintage 2D magnetic levitation- permanent magnets can only produce static equilibrium along two dimensions- here a glass mirror constrains the third dimension, and makes for a nice bearing surface for rotation. This item was sold in the 1990s in mall shops such as Natural Wonders.
Get a set here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: Happy/Sad Balls
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.
Get one from these fine sources:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Floating Ring Magnet Set
From Amazon: BUY NOW Floating Ring Magnet Set
Magnetic Levitation in 1D: a stack of dipole magnets. Note how the spacing between any two magnets is proportional to weight of how many magnets there are above the gap. Gravity vs Magnetism.
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.
Get one from these fine sources:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Tea Candle Steam Engine
From Amazon: BUY NOW Tea Candle Steam Engine
Other interesting engines available here: Simple Heat Engines
Tea Candle Steam Engine: a functional piston steam engine complete with boiler and flywheel. Takes about 2 minutes to get going after the candle is lit. The invention that powered the industrial revolution on a desktop! Made by Wilesco.
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 one here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer Cube
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer set
Magnetic Field Viewer: visualizing the invisible- tiny iron filings suspended in viscous oil gracefully chain up along the magnetic field lines of the ferromagnet, revealing its dipole configuration.
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.
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
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?