Toys for Physics
So, among other projects, I’m putting together a proposal to buy toys for physics demos. We have some simple ones already – nerf soccer balls, for example (one of which I want to cut up to install a wireless accelerometer… more on that later). I’m making a wish list, and have decided on a few criteria:
- The toys should be based on principles covered in intro physics: mechanics, electricity, magnetism, thermodynamics, and optics. We do a little modern physics, too, but I’ll keep that out of there for now.
- The toys should be mostly non-electronic (which is not to say non-electrical), except where required to teach fundamental circuit analysis. No microprocessors.
- Nothing expensive or custom-made. I’m looking for things students may have played with outside of class.
- Something about the toy needs to be measurable (maybe with some modification). For example, a nerf gun launches a ball. You can analyze the motion of the ball with a video camera and Tracker. I’m even thinking about ways to mount an accelerometer in the grip so that students can measure the angle of the launcher when they fire it.
- Yo-yo (rotational motion and moment of inertia)
- Pogo stick (Newton’s laws, conservation of energy)
- Frisbee (air resistance, rotational motion)
- Nerf Atom Blaster (projectile motion)
- Hot Wheels and looping track (Newton’s laws, circular motion, conservation of energy)
- An official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time… and some Knox gelatin (conservation of energy)
- Jenga (static equilibrium)
- Sit-n-spin (yes, sit-n-spin; circular and rotational motion)
This is all I can think of off the top of my head. All for mechanics right now. Suggestions?