Most summers are dotted with trips, day outings and plans to do absolutely nothing. Most teachers have plans to have some "me time" and do all those things we don't have time for during the school year. For me, some of those things include making more stuff for my classroom. I keep a list of things I want to build and I don't always get to build them during the school year. They probably won't all happen, I've got kids after all. In no particular order, these are my official Summer 2016 Building Goals:
- Torque sticks
A colleague showed me ten years ago that wrapping lead solder on the end of the meter stick moved the meter stick's center of mass. I've wrapped it with fabric but I still tell students not to handle the lead solder during our torque lab. Students have trouble thinking of the solder addition as part of the whole meter stick and often label Force Vector Diagrams with an extra force at its position. Years ago I bought sticks that were almost the same dimensions as meter sticks (they just had to be planed a bit). I hope to drill holes in one side of the meter stick and then add weights to the other side. I'm hoping that by having the mass unequally distributed will help students understand that the Force of Gravity acting at the center of mass wherever that is and stop thinking of it as a separate force.
- Energy rollercoaster
I bought wide aluminum U-Channel, heated it with a blow torch and bent it into a double hill shape using leather gloves (still got a little warm!). I can roll a marble through the track or a ping pong ball over the top. It worked great when I used it this year but was awkward to hold it in place on my desk. I'd like to make some kind of holder for it, perhaps two tracks on one long board.
- Mounted & dismantled toaster
A few years ago I asked a bored TA to dismantle a non-working toaster. Since then I've plugged it into a voltage generator and gotten enough current through it to feel a bit of heat. Since its dismantled it is awkward to display and operate at the same time. I'd like to mount the toaster so that it is easy to display and operate as a demo.
- Two way mirror box
I bought two way mirror glass from TAP Plastics with the hope of making a two-way mirror box. I saw one at the Exploratorium that had a light bulb completely encased in a box with an external switch. When the light bulb is off it just looks like a mirrored box. If the light is on however, it is clearly seen behind seemingly transparent glass.