gizmo factory - Clay Center
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gizmo factory - Clay Center

gizmo factory

Discover a multitude of exciting hands-on physical science exhibits

with your students in the Gizmo Factory, a whimsical, fun-filled

space with exhibits exploring everything from energy and magnetism

to light and color. Designed to inspire your students’ curiosity and

creativity, the Gizmo Factory is a “minds-on” experience as well! The

following physical science activities and experiments are designed

to capitalize on your students’ experience in the

Gizmo Factory.

Science challenges people to go beyond the

knowledge others have discovered.

- GEMS: Science and Math Explorations for Young Children,

Lawrence Hall of Science

Newton’s Ping Pong Ball

What you need:

ping pong ball

small hair dryer

What you do:

1. Set hair dryer to highest speed setting

(low temperature is fine).

2. Place ping pong ball in air stream.

3. Note that the ping pong ball remains

in the stream of air even if dryer is

(slowly) tilted from side to side.

What’s Happening?

Sir Isaac Newton stated in his 3 rd Law of

Motion that for every action there is an equal

and opposite reaction. While the fast moving

air swirls around the ping pong ball (action), the ball in turn rotates (reaction),

finds its equilibrium, and is held in place in the air stream.

Recipe for Fun! Discovery Goop

Here’s a touch of chemistry for some extra fun in the classroom! This recipe

makes a large batch and can always be reduced.

What you need:

Mixture A:

2 cups of white glue

1½ cups warm water

food coloring

Mixture B:

1 ½ cups warm water

3 T Borax

What you do:

1. Mix mixtures separately. Add desired color and amount of food coloring (be

careful, too much may stain hands when students play with the Goop).

2. Once mixtures are mixed, pour Mixture B into Mixture A and stir with


3. Once Goop becomes thick (should happen fairly quickly!), mix by hand.

4. Rinse off Goop and store in large Ziploc bag. Your Goop should last for

quite some time stored in a plastic bag and refrigerated.

Splish Splash

What you need:

tuning fork w/mallet

cup of water

What you do:

1. Strike tuning fork with mallet.

2. Have students listen to sound. While fork is still

vibrating, place the end in the cup of water and

WATCH OUT! You may get wet!

What’s Happening?

Sound is transmitted through the vibration of air

molecules. When you strike the tuning fork with the mallet, it begins to

vibrate. By placing the tuning fork in the water, you cause a transfer of the

sound energy from air to liquid and the vibrations are enough to move

the water out of the cup.

Going Further . . .

Attach a ping pong ball to a string (masking or scotch tape works well)

and gently place the vibrating tuning fork beside the ball. You will notice

that the ball begins to move as the sound energy is transferred to the


Resource: You can order tuning forks by visiting or try another

scientific supply company.

. . . everyone can and should do science.

- Informal Science Learning, Research

Communication Limited

Color Scopes

What you need:

red cellophane

2 paper plates



What you do:

1. Cut a hole approximately 4 – 5 inches in

diameter from each paper plate.

2. Sandwich a piece of red cellophane between the plates, covering the hole

and glue in place.

3. Use the color scope to observe the world around you. Note that red

objects seem to appear black (or at least much darker) when viewed

through the scope.

What’s Happening?

White light is made up of a spectrum of colors ranging from red to violet,

traveling in different wavelengths. Red objects appear red because they absorb

all light in the spectrum except those of the red wavelength, which are reflected

to the viewer’s eye. When you place the color scope over your eyes, you are

blocking those wavelengths and the object appears black. For more color and

light fun, try using cellophane of different colors.

what causes a rainbow?

A rainbow is formed when billions of tiny, clear drops

of water are suspended in the air on a rainy day. Each

drop acts like a tiny prism, refracting the light from

the sun in slightly different directions, depending on

the color. Thus, one group of drops will refract the

red light from the sun directly toward your eyes,

while bending other colors so that they miss you

altogether. Light from drops in a nearby patch of

the sky will refract the green light in your

direction, so that part of the sky appears

green and so on. (from Color Analyzers,

GEMS, Lawrence Hall of Science)

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