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:
Unitech Toys, the makers of the popular portable Van De Graaff generator, the Fun Fly Stick has expanded on their popular and amazing toy by introducing the Static Science Kit!
Now instead of just having fun floating objects with the Fun Fly Stick you get a whole series of static experiments to work with.
First the Fun Fly Stick in the Static Science Kit is a little different: It is transparent for the handle and the charger, so you can see the charing band whirring in action as it carries charges up to the end of the wand! You get the usual assortment of floating mylar pieces to demonstrate the effects of static attraction and repulsion, but you now also get a 25 piece experiment kit as well!
Experiments include: Flying Saucers, the electrostatic drummer, induction, leyden jars, ion motors, electrostatic motors, electrostatic wind, and much more! Its a great kit for under $30 and is excellent for classrooms on a budget since the price is so low almost every student can get a kit!
The Fun Fly Stick Static Science Kit is in stock now. For home or for class you just can’t beat this kind of static experimentation!