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Archive for the ‘Science Fun’ Category

Iron Filings – Yes, Iron Filings and what to do with them!

While carrying some boxes over to the local post office one of them sadly fell on the ground. One of the Postal employess commented that he hoped what was in the box was not fragile. I answered “Not this one, it is full of Iron Filings.”. “Iron Filings? Why would someone want that?”196

Why indeed?

Iron Filings are not the most exciting product we carry in the store. Its a bag, and it has 1 pound of Iron Filings inside it. Oh, and a label. Gotta have the label saying what it is. That’s it. And yet we sell quite a few of them!

So what are iron filings for? Here’s a few art & science projects that requires them:

1) Magnetic field patterns: Place a magnet (preferably a bar magnet) flat on a large piece of paper and sprinkle the irong filings on the paper around the magnet. The iron filings will line up to to illustrate the ‘field lines’ of the magnetic field of the magnet

2) Making Rust: There are a number of experiments listed out there where you add vinegar to iron filings to show how it oxidizes and makes rust.  Sometimes when you do this you will get a ‘rotten egg’ smell and its not exacly certain why that happens.

3) Budget Ferrofluid: Actual ferrofluid is kinda pricey, so many folks use irong filings sealed in a test tube with light oil (30w) to act as a budget version of ferrofluid. Its efficacy is…debatable.

4) Art Toys: Remember those ‘magnetic doodlers’ where you uses a tip to give a face eyebrows or a mustache? The ‘hair’ was actually made of Iron Filings. Some take this idea a step further

5) Music: Let’s just watch this, shall we?

6) Make a Fuzzy Magnet Pet. Take a powerful rare-earth magnet and drop it into a bag of iron filings to get this nifty fuzzy iron tribble!

Fuzzyironfilingsmagnet

Want to buy Iron Filings?

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

New Kites!

Although you might not realize it from the chilly outside weather or the impending snow storm that is approaching the Philadelphia region, but Spring is actually coming, and with it some nicer weather. Time to fly some kites! We have several new kites in for the Spring. Here are some of the new ones:

Pirate Ship Bali Kite

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We’ve had 3D Pirate kites in the past, but they got prohibitively expensive. Now this new 3D Pirate Ship Kite is ready to set sail for the skies!

Rainbow Delta Kite with Spinner

This kite’s main feature is the huge spinner that flies after it!

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The bright and bold delta kite is easy to fly and sports a 42′ spinning curlie tail.  Great for beginning kite flyers who want a bit more pizazz to their flyers!

Silhouette Bird Kites

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These colorful silhouette bird kites span 44″ wide and really stand out in the sunny skies. The birds are available in purple (shown) as well as Teal.

Silhouette Butterfly Kites

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These two-toned butterfly silhouette kites stand out much like their bird partners, but also include colorful 6′ streamers extending from each butterfly. The butterfly silhouettes come in blue/green and pink/purple.

Want to buy Kites?

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

New Giant Microbes – Tapeworm and DNA

It has been a while since we added new Giant Microbes. They’ve added some things to their line but we weren’t very impressed. But this cycle we have added two new items from their catalog. The first up is the Tapeworm:

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Quick Gifts: 10 Toys That cost less than $10 and ship easy!

OK, here’s 10 quick gifts that cost less than $10, can ship easy (weigh less than a pound) and are great as stocking stuffers or gifts for people on a budget. Let’s go!

Fun Straws

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Comes with 104 pieces that allow you to construct a maze of straws that makes drinking your favorite beverage a whole new world.

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Dino Pet – a living bioluminescent pet

We finally have them in stock, the Dino Pet! The glowing, living dino-shaped pet!

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So your Radiometer stopped working…

Radiometers, or as people who come into our store describe it: “That thing that spins in a bulb in sunlight” are a great little demonstration of solar energy.

569There’s no assembly required, just remove the Radiometer from the box and put it under light. The vanes should start spinning right away.

But every now and then the Radiometer may stop working. You can put it in the brightest lights and yet nothing happens. What to do?

Well repairs to a stopped Radiometer are almost painfully simple, and yet sometimes they need to be explained carefully. This is especially true since Radiometers are made with thin glass and can be easily damaged.

First Repair: Two finger tap

Most of the time the reason a Radiometer stops working is because the vanes have come dislodged from the needle-like post. The vanes are supported from the post by an upturned cup of glass with a pointed bottom. To operate the needle point must fit in that bottom perfectly. This is not always as easy as it sounds as the vane’s momentum can cause the cup to slip off the needle. To get it working again you will need to reset the cup onto the needle with a tiny bit of external force.

2014-11-25 13.49.51Give your Radiometer a gently but firm tap with two fingers directly on the very top of the bulb. Do not tap too hard as the bulb is made of thin glass.  If the cup has simply dislodged itself from the needle this gentle impact may cause it to reset itself. It is also possible that the vanes have gotten a little stuck from one reason or another and this impact can loosen them.

Second Repair: Upside Down time.

If tapping does not fix the problem it is time for the ‘full resetting’ of the cup on the pin.

 

2014-11-25 13.50.03Take the Radiometer and turn it directly upside-down. Then quickly flip it so it is right-side up again. When you invert the Radiometer the cup will come completely off the needle and when you revert it the cup should reset exactly on top of the needle. Place it back into the sun and see if this reseting worked. If it did not, try it again.

Still not Working? Troubleshooting tips:

So after trying these your Radiometer is still not working? Try these helpful hints to see if there is another issue:

1) Not enough light. Some Radiometers may operate by a glimpse of moonlight but most aren’t that sensitive. Try putting the Radiometer in direct sunlight or very close to a lamp and see if it works. Sometimes Radiometers just can’t get enough energy from a cloudy day! Keep in mind that the sensitivity is unmeasurable and there can be great variations of sensitivity even within a brand of Radiometer.

2) Unlevel surface. If there is anything under the base of the Radiometer, remove it and see if that helps. A Radiometer won’t work if it is tilted for any reason so check the shelf or windowsill you place it on is reasonably level. If not, try another sunny location.

3) It’s cold outside. If your windowsill is very drafty the Radiometer may have problems. See if you can find a warmer location.

4) It just won’t work! While not all Radiometers are created equal, it is very, very rare that one simply won’t operate. But it does happen. To make certain either place the Radiometer in direct bright sunlight or mere inches from a lamp bulb. If it won’t work even under those conditions (after you follow the tap and flip repairs above) it is likely a non-operating radiometer. Time to replace it.

Want to buy a Radiometer?

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

New Artec Kits: See Through Ice, Convertable Telescope, Planet Engineer and Celestial Globe

We’ve carried Artec kits for a few months and they’ve done quite well. Some of the kits have a rational outlook to them and others have the zany Japanese anime-influenced look to them that makes them twice as awesome. Most of the new kits fall into the latter category.

First up is a rather odd kit: See Through Ice

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More from Goldie Blox

The engineering toy aimed at young girls continues to expand, and they’ve moved past just engineering basics and have some great new products.

Goldie Blox kits are for children aged 4-9. The latest entry is, not a kit, but an action figure!

This is no dress-up Princess, either, Goldie’s action figure ziplines!

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Sky Runner – The Quadracopter Toy

So we’ve carried little indoor helicopter toys, such as this Mini-Flyer Soccer Ball. They are great fun at a low price. But now the same company that makes the Mini-Flyers has added the new Sky Runner, an indoor/outdoor quadracopter.

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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

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