Science Toys Teach Kids and Adults in a Way That's Fun!
Some, like the boomerang, have been around for hundreds if not thousands of year. Some rely on the laws of physics, like balancing toys and gyroscopes. Others have been clever inventions that depending upon underlying scientific principles like the dippy bird and the Levitron. Regardless of their origin, educational toys are timeless in their ability to capture the imaginations of countless generations of young and old alike.
We've assembled a collection of classic and innovative science toys including some you can make yourself. Enjoy!
Zoetrope... just one of many animation toys depending on "persistence of vision"... culminating in motion pictures and the cinema.
Build Your Own Zoetrope"... The zoetrope, or Wheel of Life, takes the Phenakistiscope's principle of using slits to view the image and folds it into a rotating drum. Invented in 1834 by William George Horner, the image was drawn on a removable strip of paper, so the animations were changeable. The slits were equally spaced around the drum, and the images were spaced along with them. The viewer spun the drum and watched the animation through the slits. This was perhaps the most popular and longest lasting of all of these toys...."CLICK HERE for some MORE animation toys that depend on "persistence of vision"from Bizarrelabs. including the Thaumatrope, the Phenakistiscope, the Kineograph, the Mutoscope, the Praxinoscope, the Muybridge, and the Zoopraxiscope... all culminating in George Eastman's invention of celluloid film... and Edison's Kinetograph and the Kinetoscope "peep hole" type machine... and finally Dickson's Kinetophonograph which added sound...
Gizmos... and the Slithering Snake Tour! Now You Can Doodle in 3-D!
Polymorf offers instruction in "gizmoneering"... and other 3-D construction methods. "... Gizmos are gadgets you can build with Polymorf to make your models come alive! You can use these simple mechanisms alone or combined with each other to make models of flying eagles, creeping spiders, pouncing cats, or telescopes that have two-axis rotation. As a toy inventor you will learn how to engineer complex mechanisms that use bearings, levers, pivots, push rods, hinges, braces, etc. to power the action that you desire. Polymorf is the toy making toy!" Free Slithering Snake Tour
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Mechanical Toys You Can Make Yourself
"....The Mechanical Toys Page is devoted all toys that are powered mechanically or that are kinetic. The toys on these pages are powered by rubber bands, springs, flywheels, candles and gravity. The best thing about these toys is that many of them can be built at home with no special tools. I have built most of the toys and written instructions, with diagrams and photos, on how to build them yourself using bits and bobs scrounged from junk...."
Wikipedia's Definition of Crookes Radiometer"... The Crookes radiometer, also known as the light mill or solar engine, consists of an airtight glass bulb, containing a partial vacuum. Inside are a set of vanes which are mounted on a spindle. The vanes rotate when exposed to light, with faster rotation for more intense light, providing a quantitative measurement of electromagnetic radiation intensity. The reason for the rotation has been the cause of much scientific debate...."
Pop-pop boats "....are powered by a simple boiler consisting of a thin coiled tube of copper. The tube's ends extend out the back of the boat into the water. The coils in the middle of the tube extend over a small flame, which heats the water in the coils. When the water boils, the steam jets out the back, propelling the boat forward...."
"Optical Toys is a vibrant little company, devoted to the creation of various sorts of paper toys. We take pains to faithfully reproduce original antique pieces but also publish toys of new designs and forms. The company started on the living room floor in 1988 with a focus on bringing to the modern market, early paper movie toys with the belief that the invention of the cinema historically interrupted interest in these types of toys.... As we have grown, we have discovered an equal fascination with paper toys, most especially those of a unique (and weird) graphic sensibility. The company now distributes some 50 different products and flipbook titles. Phenakistascopes, flipbooks, thaumatropes and other paper toys are sold in museum and specialty shops throughout North America, Europe, Japan and Australia."
Gestural Engineering: The Sculpture of Arthur Ganson "... Self-described as a cross between a mechanical engineer and a choreographer, Arthur Ganson creates contraptions composed of a range of materials from delicate wire to welded steel and concrete. Most are viewer-activated or driven by electric motors. All are driven by a wry sense of humor or a probing philosophical concept...."
Bizarre Stuff You Can Make In Your Kitchen"....an ever growing warehouse of the kinds of projects some of the more demented of us tried as young people, collecting in one place many of the classic, simple science projects that have become part of the collective lore of amateur science. It is a sort of warped semi-scientific cookbook of tricks, gimmicks, and pointless experimentation, concoctions, and devices, using, for the most part, things found around the house. These are the classics. Strange goo, radios made from rusty razor blades, crystal gardens... amateur mad scientist stuff. If you happe to learn something in the process, consider yourself a better person for it...."
Infinity mirror "... has lights that seem to go very deep into the frame. It's particularly dramatic in a darkened room. However, when the mirror lights are off and the room lights are on, it's just like an ordinary mirror. The basic idea is that there is a one way mirror at the front of the unit. Behind is another mirror. The lights reflect against the mirrors which in turn reflect against each other which give you the effect of depth. Our model what made with leftovers: scrap lumber, a string of Christmas lights, two panes of glass, and some leftover reflective film designed to control sun and reflect it back out of your house. When the highly reflective film is applied to glass, the glass become a one way mirror." PLANS FOR A DO-IT-YOURSELF INFINITY MIRROR. How to Build an Infinity Mirror... which can be hung on the wall or turned into a table top.
Boomerangs, Slings, Bolas, Atlatls and Throwing Rings. All of these aerodynamic devices have their roots as primitive airborne missiles used by early man for both weaponry and sport. These devices are still in use by both primitive and advanced technology societies today. Flight-Toys is your one-stop-source for information about these flying toys and hunting devices
MAD PROFESSOR Concoct Extremely Weird Science Projects--Robot Food, Saucer Slime, Martian Volcanoes, and More
By Mark Frauenfelder
For every budding mad professor, this super-secret lab manual contains recipes for icky slimes, zippy robots, edible geology, and other gizmos and experiments. These countertop science projects are educational, safe, and fun!
Every page is in full color and loaded with illustrations, and it's printed on easy-to-clean laminated paper, so you can make your Goon Goo, hovercrafts, portal paper, spool-bots, and other experiments without fear of staining the book.
HowStuffWorks.com is an amazing, award-winning online destination for anyone who wants to know how anything works! Originally started by Marshall Brain as an entertaining and fascinating place for people to learn about the world we live in, the site has grown to be one of the top 500 Web sites in the United States.*
Levitron: The Amazing Anti-Gravity Top"Spin the top and watch it float—the LEVITRON spins and "surfs" on magnetic waves! Pass your hand above, underneath and around the top. It will continue to spin and float—only touching air!
"A challenge to master, a miracle to behold—the LEVITRON is an interactive puzzle which provides hours of entertainment. The more you practice, the longer you will be able to get the top to float. No batteries required.
"The 'antigravity' force that repels the top from the base is magnetism. Both the top and the heavy slab inside the base box are magnetized, but oppositely. Think of the base magnet with its north pole pointing up, and the top as a magnet with its north pole pointing down (fig 1). The principle is that two similar poles (e.g., two norths) repel and that two similar poles attract, with forces that are stronger when the poles are closer. There are four magnetic forces on the top: on its north pole, repulsion from the base's north and attraction from the base's south, and on its south pole, attraction from the base's north and repulsion from the base's south. Because of the way the forces depend on distance, the north-north repulsion dominates, and the top is magnetically repelled. It hangs where this upward repulsion balances the downward force of gravity, that is, at the point of equilibrium where the total force is zero."
Levitron: An Amazing Invention and a Patent Failure... or Who Really Invented Levitron"....So today, having failed to make a deal with Harrigan, the Sherlocks are collaborating with Chieffo to produce alternatives to the Hones's product, which they intend to market in May 2000, when Harrigan's patent expires. After hearing this story, people wonder why Harrigan's patent didn't protect Harrigan's rights. The answer is a lesson for all patent holders: A patent only protects its owner as long as the owner enforces it...." A sad tale of paranoia and alleged duplicity and greed.
"If you look like a dork, that's one thing. If you know you're a dork and you celebrate it, that's something else entirely. This is the classic deluxe felt beanie with a spinning propeller on top. Wear it at your next tenure meeting to take an edge off the seriousness." CLICK HERE for more info.
Propeller Beanies with Dual and Triple Propellers! at Geek Culture "... we are pleased to announce a Propeller Beanie Technological Breakthrough! Our experienced Beanie Technicians are now able to attach a secondary propeller or even a third to our beanies! That's right, dual propellers or triple propellers on a beanie! The implications will make your head spin! Plus NEW! We now have different colors of propellers that you can choose from... including red, yellow, blue, ultra cool black and our classic white.... We also offer custom beanies! Order cool propellor caps with your company logo on them...."
According to FusionAnomaly.com "... While investigating the various tones of music, Ernst Chladni (1756-1827) made a classic experiment to show the effects of internal linkharmonic vibrations. He spread fine sand over a glass or metal plate and set it into vibration with the bow of a violin by scraping the bow along one edge of the plate. The bow would alternately stick and slip in rapid succession on the edge of the plate to create internal linkwaves of sand (also sound waves). He would hold the plate between his fore finger and thumb; the point where the plate is held is, of course, a node where there can be no movement. The bow sets up waves that move across the plate and then are reflected from the edges. The reflected waves become superimposed on the new waves coming from the bow edge. This results in symmetrical patterns of nodal lines where the plate is not moving...."
Astro-Jax ".... a high-density metal weight is located inside the soft, protective foam mantle of each ball. The two exterior balls are fixed at the ends of the string, and the middle ball is free to slide along the string and must rotate rapidly for the toy to work...." . There are several versions of this fasinating toy... including one that 'glows in the dark'.
A Quick Short History of the Slinky "... "Richard James invented the Slinky by accident. He was trying to develop a spring that could help keep sensitive ship-board instruments steady at sea. He knocked some of these experimental springs off a shelf, and was amused by the way they "walked" down, rather than just falling...."