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.

Here’s the list so far. I was thinking of ruling out toys from this list (does it remind anyone else of FU Penguin?), but some of them are actually good!

  1. Yo-yo (rotational motion and moment of inertia)
  2. Pogo stick (Newton’s laws, conservation of energy)
  3. Frisbee (air resistance, rotational motion)
  4. Nerf Atom Blaster (projectile motion)
  5. Hot Wheels and looping track (Newton’s laws, circular motion, conservation of energy)
  6. 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)
  7. Jenga (static equilibrium)
  8. 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?