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Archive for the ‘Physics’ Category

Teaching Science on a Budget: Insulation & Reflection with a $2.50 Emergency Blanket

Teaching science can be hard, and can be made even harder with limited budgets that so many schools have to deal with. This may be an ongoing segment where we explain how simple, inexpensive items can be used to help teach basic concepts.

So say hello to the Mylar Emergency Blanket:


The Mylar Emergency Blanket comes folded up but unfolds into a shiny, 52″ x 84″ blanket:


The Millikan Oil Drop Apparatus

The Milikan Oil Drop experiment an experiment where you measure the elementary electric charge of an electron. This is done by examining tiny charged droplets between two electrodes. The plates are charged to the point where the droplets were at mechanical equiplibrium. From this the charge of the electron (based on the size of the droplets and the material of the droplet.).

United Scientific’s Milikan Oil Drop Apparatus allows modern physics students to perform the Oil Drop Experiment in their own lab.


This Milliklan Oil Drop Apparatus is hooked up to a computer via USB cable where the results can be studied. A version with a monitor is also available.  The apparatus consists of an oil drop chamber with a mercury lamp, a digital voltmeter, a CCD camera, an atomizer, and a digital timer.  Software is also included.

The Oil Drop Chamber is made of an accurately dimensioned polymer cyclinder with two precisely machined paralell end plate electrodes. The cylinder has an illumination opening, an observation opening, and a quartz glass window to exclude drafts. The entire oil drop chamber is housed in a cylindrical dreaft shield. Oil drops fall from a an oil mist chamber above the draft shield into the oil drop chamber through a hole of 0.4mm diameter in the uppoer electrode plate. They are illuminated by an LED.

A built in timer allows users to conveniently measuer the time it takes an oil drop to complete a motion through a measured distance. The distance can be measured on the monitor or via the computer link. Voltage is adjusted via the balancing voltage control and the balancing votlage switch. It can be varied from 0-500V with the control knob.

Two methods for measuring the elementary electric charge of an electron are descreibed in the manual: The Balance method and the Ris and Fall Method.

Want to buy the Millikan Oil Drop Experiment Apparatus?



Two New Science Kits: Photosynthesis & Pendulums!

Two new kits for kids age 6+ have arrived in the store today. They are Photosynthesis in a Tube and Pendulums and Collisions



United Scientific Intermediate Spectrometer

Spectrometers are a staple product of high school and University Physics labs. Used for testing and measuring the refraction of light, they are crucial for a lot of optics programs. Among one of the better class of instruments for this purpose is the United Scientific Intermediate Spectrometer



Laser Optics Demonstrator

There are a fair number of Laser Optics kits for classrooms on the market, but most of them are design for only  a few purposes in demonstrating the properties of optics, lasers, and the like. The United Scientific Laser Optics Demonstrator works as a comprehensive optical demonstration system.

2474large The core of the Demonstrator is a built-in He-Ne (Helium-Neon) laser. Unlike budget systems that may use a LED Laser (which can produce square shaped target dots). In addition the set includes a deflection system, ray optics board, and 30 optical quality glass components on carriers, three magnetic base supports and mechanical stage for wave optics.

The He-Ne laser is mounted horizontally in the demonstrator and the beam is diverted up towards the five mirrors. Each of these mirrors is only partially aluminized  so that a fraction of the beam is deflected onto the white optics board to create a ray bundle. 2474a

On the white board is a 360 degree graduated table for measurement.  The table has a knob on the back of the board so that it can be rotated. In the dead center of the table is a mount where the various glass optical components can be mounted – Demonstration lenes (convex, concave) prisms, mirrors and other optical instruments.  Fiber optics are also included.

In addition to these optical ray systems the Laser Optics Demonstrator can be used for several light wave experiments. The base holds the various magnetic base supports that are included with the demonstrator. These components include lenses, polarizers, an air wedge, bi-prism, interference apertures, obstacles. Many interferenc2474be  and diffraction experiments can be performed with these components.  The laser is bright enough that most experiments can be held in a bright room, but extended patterns or diffractions may require darkening.

The entire Laser Optics Demonstrator comes in a metal carrying case that measures 15″ x 15″ x 13″.

Want to buy the Laser Optics Demonstrator?

Want to buy other Advanced Physics Classroom Equipment?



Foucault’s Pendulum Video

We’ve already covered the details on United Scientific’s Foucault Pendulum Apparatus just under a year ago, but now United has produced a video to explain and show the Pendulum in operation. Have a watch:

Want to buy the Foucault Pendulum?


Lazy Tuesday Video Blog Post

Adventures this morning consisted of a blown out bicycle tire followed by a 3 miles walk in bike shoes. So forgive me if this post is a bit on the lazy side. We’re just going to spotlight some recent videos taken for our youtube channel

Let’s start with a video of the recently discussed Magnetic “Sand” Timer in action:

Here is DStar’s Vacuum Engine/Flame Licker Engine in action:

A silly solar powered Sock Monkey

One of the large, 6″ MOVA Political Earth Globes doing its spinning thing:

Finally, the DStar Basic Stirling Engine in action:




Complete Properties of Electrons Apparatus

One of the more ‘practical’ experiments done in advanced physics labs is where a cathode ray tube (which shoots electrons) is surrounded by a magnetic field. By changing the magnetic field you manipulate the path of the electrons and cause them to strike the end of the tube in different areas. By measuring the change of path you could measure the field or calculate the deflection if you knew the power of the magnetic field. The experiment is considered practical because it doesn’t take much to realize this is how old TVs and Computer monitors worked (before LCD screens became the default). The experiment is only a crude imitation of the process that goes on in a TV, but it at least gives you the idea.

The biggest issue with the experiment is that it needed a lot of stuff to work. Cathode Ray tubes were purchased separately, as were the field generating coils, wires, power supplies, variacs, it made quite a mess. Some ‘kit’ versions were produced but none were as convenient as United Scientific’s Complete Properties of Electrons Apparatus



New Stirling Engine Designs from DStar

DStar Engines has produced some of the highest quality and widest variety of Stirling Engines to hit the market. From their popular Low-Temperature Stirling Engine, to the unique Stirling Engine Powered Vehicle. Now two new varieties of Stirling Engine are available.

The first is the Magnetic Ringbom Stirling Engine.



New Science Kits from Artec

Artec is a Japanese-based company that has been trying to break into the US market for a few years. We’ve seen their stuff for a while and were impressed, but at first there were too many issue with the products for us to carry them. Things have improved steadily and now we think their great science kits are ready for our audience. We added a whole lot of these kits, and they are low-cost and fun. Some of them still may have a bit too much ‘anime’ on the box art & instructions but it is still good stuff. Here’s a few of them to start:

5070Bacteria Farm allows students to cultivate 12 different kinds of bacteria.  They will actually make their own5070a cultivating broth and a 12 chamber cultivation plate to grow bacteria from soil, household liquids, and much more.  Parental help will be needed to grow the brother (water needs to be boiled) but this quite is a great introduction to the world of bacteria.