There was a time I used to brag that I could get a Van De Graaff generator running in a rainstorm. This was a bit of hyperbole, of course but I do have to say that I got pretty good at operating a Van De Graaff generator (VDGG from hereout) when I worked for a science museum. However, my experience was not typical for Van De Graaff users – more often that not, most VDGG’s are rolled to out to be used for one day in the Physics class. They are operated in 2-4 classes during that day and then rolled back into storage. My high school physics teacher, not the most comic of science teachers, consdiered the use of the VDGG and raising up a student’s hair to be ‘obligatory’ for the class.
This limited usage, however, may mean that many teachers don’t really get an idea of what can go wrong with their machinery. Especially when the VDGG is being used by a middle school or elementary school teacher who may not have the experience needed to run the VDGG proeprly.
The following is a list of things that can go wrong, how to diagnose them, and how to fix them. It is by no means comprehesive but should get you the opportunity to operate your VDGG successfully.
In the course of science education every student should get the chance to see a Van De Graaff Generatoror Tesla Coil in action. These electrical devices are a fun way to demonstrate properties of electricity. At Spectrum Scientifics we have recently added several new such devices to our offerings. So let’s talk about the Van De Graaffs first!
Van De Graaff Generators: Often referred to as a ‘static generator’ or ‘that thing that makes your hair stand up’ the Van de Graaff emplyes a belt that carries a positive charge to the ball at the top of the generator. This ball gives the generator its classic shape:
For a couple of years we have been offering various wind gnereating kits such as the Savonius Wind Turbine. These kits do quite well but schools may find they need more to teach energy generation as part of a STEM program. So now Picoturbine offers multiple kits for Wind and Solar energy generation. There are several designs that depend on the size & design of the windmill (Mini, Standard, and Limitless) as well as the systems ability to generate AC, DC or both.
We continue with more of the great, low-cost products from Artec. First up is the Make your own Litmus Paper
With this kit, kids will use the colorful reactions of acids and bases on litmus paper to learn about the pH scale. You can even draw with the colorful reactive litmus papers you make. Its a great intro in the world of chemistry and fun for kids as yougn as 6 years old.
We recently added the Boogie Board, a LCD pad for drawing and writing.
The Boogie Board is an update of the classic ‘Magic Slate’ toy from the 50’s. Here you can use the stylus or even your own finger to draw on the screen. You can make lists, do math, draw pictures, and when you are done just push the button at the top of the Boogie Board and in a flash it wipes the screen clean! The Boogie Board can be wiped clean over 50,000 times on its included battery.
So in previous posts covering the products in the new Jr. Scientists series we covered their robotic kits, then in part 2 we covered their crystal kits and the telescope kit. But that is the final chapter in this science set series, and let’s just say that the products in this last post are a little – strange. Let’s start off with the very unusual: The Hand Dynamo Helicopter and Flip Flop Turtle.
Yes, you read that correctly.
OK, so we’ve already mentioned having a Salt-Powered Robot and that is a fairly new product for us but it seems we have never mentioned some fairly popular Salt-Water Powered vehicles that we have actually carried for a couple of years. We are talking about the Salt Water Fuel Cell Car and its big brother the Salt Water Fuel Cell Monster Truck.