Educational Innovations

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. 

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.

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 

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! 


Stainless Steel Rattleback

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.

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. 

In-Feed Google 2


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. 

 

Pencil Hyperboloid

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 
Heat-Sensitive Pencils 

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!

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.


Magneview Flim

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. 

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.

Iron Filings in Silicone Oil Suspension

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.

 


The PhiTop

This great little lab stirrer (which I modified to have a transparent top) can be used in many investigations and demonstrations: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Stirrer 

Inexpensive concave lenses make great spinning platforms- get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Concave Lens Spin Station 

Get a PhiTOP in aluminum here (will work nicely in this demo):
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW PhiTOP 
From Amazon: BUY NOW PhiTOP

Induced Current Spin-Up: Spinning magnets from the magnetic stirrer induce electric currents to flow in the brass PhiTOP- these currents then create their own magnetic field which opposes the magnets underneath and pushes the PhiTOP to spin. Credit to astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, the creator of the PhiTOP and this unique means of using Lenz’s Law to spin it up. This top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. The concave lens keeps the top from wandering off of magnetic stirrer. 

Polarizing Filter Black Wall Illusion

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!

Harbottle Air Pressure Demonstration 

This item came to me in my Spring 2022 Curiosity Box subsciption:
Get (or give!) a Curiosity Box subscription here: JOIN NOW: The Curiosity Box

A nice glass version is available from this trusted seller:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Harbottle Demonstration 

Harbottle Balloon Demo: a regular untied balloon remains inflated- one can even look down the neck of the balloon and see inside! Just blow up the balloon inside the bottle and then cork the hole in the opposite end- in so doing the inside of the balloon is experiencing the full force of air pressure, but the exterior of the balloon is protected from the crush of air pressure by the rigid wall of the bottle. Air pressure at sea level is 10.1 Newtons of force per each square centimeter of area (14.6 pounds per square inch). The bottle allows a pressure differential, pressure on the inside but much less on the outside of the balloon. The inside air pressure would lead to 12.5 pounds of force pushing outward on a 2 inch diameter balloon- more that enough to balance the elasticity of the rubber balloon material. Take the cork out and now both sides experience the same air pressure and the elastic force is no longer balanced. A fun demonstration reminding us that we live at the bottom of a deep sea of atmosphere! 


Fluorescence and Birefringence in Calcite

Get a sample here: 

From eBay: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal 

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

Need a UV laser pointer? Get 3 lasers (one of each color) for under $10 (including S&H): 
From eBay: BUY NOW red+green+blue(UV) laser pointers

Fluorescence and Birefringence in Calcite: two samples of calcite- each with different impurities that produce blue fluorescence for the small crystal and red fluorescence for the larger one under a 405nm violet laser. Also one can clearly see that the single laser beam takes two paths through the crystals- the speed of light in a calcite crystal depends on polarization because the refractive index is different depending on the polarization orientation of the light transmitted through it (swipe for demonstration). 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.

Happy/Sad Spheres

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.