Educational Innovations

Diamagnetic Trap Sculpture

This particular sculpture is no longer available, however, Educational Innovations has this nice and affordable starter kit: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Kit 

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

Diamagnetic Trap Sculpture: a thin disk of pyrolytic graphite hovers and spins in stable equilibrium over a bullseye configuration of magnetic poles. Diamagnetic substances become temporary magnets while immersed in an external magnetic field, and the created diamagnetic field always opposes the external field (in contrast to ferromagnetic substances like iron which attract). Graphite of this type is one of the strongest diamagnets known, and will levitate over a powerful array of neodymium magnets. ‚ú®With sincere appreciation to Tim Rowett for this kind gift. 

Magnetic Levitation in 1D

Get one from these fine sources: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Floating Ring Magnet Set 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Floating Ring Magnet Set 

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

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. 

Reaction Rocket

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

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

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).


Plasma Globe

Plasma globes are now available in many sizes and levels of quality. Here is a source for reasonably priced quality globes: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Plasma Globe 

From Amazon: BUY NOW Plasma Globes 

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

Plasma Globe: low pressure noble gasses exhibit glow discharge from high voltage, creating plasma filaments that rise upward due to heating- shown here in slow motion. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode and the metal coated glass globe. Current flow through the thin gas produces the colorful emission spectra from the gasses

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 

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

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. 

Revolution

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 

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

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. 


Tea Candle Steam Engine

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

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

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. 

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

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

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). 

Hand Boiler

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

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

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.


The PhiTOP

Get one here! 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW PhiTOP 
From Amazon: BUY NOW PhiTOP

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

The PhiTOP: spinning things often have surprising physics! This unique top is made of solid aluminum in the shape of a prolate elIipsoid- and the name of the top is derived from the following design requirement: the ratio of the semi minor (short) axis to the semi major (long) axis is made equal to the mathematical constant the golden ratio φ (phi). Invented by astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, this top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippy-top. 

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 

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 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!

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 

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

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.


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

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

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. 

Mirascope

Similar devices available here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Mirascope 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Mirascope 
Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

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.


Ooze Tube

Many colors (and two sizes) to choose from: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Ooze Tube 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Ooze Tube 

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

The physics of the liquid rope-coil effect is pretty complex. Here is a recent scientific paper on the topic with nice illustrations. 
Journal of Fluid Mechanics: Multiple coexisting states of liquid rope coiling 

Ooze Tube: viscous polyisobutene fluid timer toy. Some interesting physics phenomena are found in this kinetic art novelty item: the "liquid rope-coil effect" where the fluid thread coils and stacks as it lands on the pooling surface, and a curious periodicity in the rate of flow that is related to the formation of non-spherical bubbles as the air and fluid trade places (shown in time-lapse). The physics of the coiling effect is complex (see the link in my blog). Broadly speaking the coiling is due to the bottom of the fluid rope widening at the contact point with the surface, and as it widens the fluid slows down but not evenly. This uneven rate of flow produces a bend and the elasticity of the stream constrains the rope to a limited radius- hence a stack of coils.

Magnetic Sandglass

Get one here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Sand Timer 

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

Magnetic Sandglass: 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 as they attempt to align with the magnetic field lines. These stacks topple over due to gravity creating interesting patterns.

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 

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

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.