Build the Simplest Electric Motor – submitted by Flinn Scientific Canada


Hans Christian Oersted (1777–1851), a Danish physicist, was performing an experiment in 1820 when he noticed that whenever an electric current from a battery was switched on or off, a nearby compass needle was deflected. Through additional experiments, Oersted was able to demonstrate the link between electricity and magnetism. The following year, English scientist Michael Faraday (1791–1867) created a device that produced “electromagnetic rotation.” This device is known as a homopolar motor since the motor requires no commutator to reverse the current.

A motor converts electrical energy to mechanical energy. The simple motor in this activity changes the electrical energy output by the battery to mechanical energy as the copper wire is set into rotational motion. Any current-carrying wire produces an associated magnetic field. The electrons in the wire are subjected to a magnetic field and experience a force—referred to as the Lorentz force—that is perpendicular to both the magnetic field and the direction of movement. At some point along the length of the wire, the electrical current is not parallel to the magnetic field. The resulting Lorentz force is tangential and induces a torque on the copper wire. This torque causes the copper wire to spin.
Continue reading

Reviewing Making Molecules Activity Using “Remind”

Molecule model on periodic table of the elements

Remind allows teachers to send messages to students and parents regarding upcoming assignments, meetings, events, and activities.  This application also permits teachers to check which students have read their messages.  Messages can be sent to individuals, to a group, or to a class.   Remind is safe since phone numbers, which can be used to invite members, are kept confidential and members will have to download the Remind application to receive ongoing messages or they can communicate using e-mail.  Continue reading

Bird Feeding Stations: Bringing Nature to the Classroom – submitted by Dave Gervais

As most investigations do, this one began with a question. I had a log delivery to my house. The logs were primarily birch. What caused the damage to the birch trees that I was chopping up for wood? The holes were too shallow to suspect woodpeckers. I peeled off the bark, fully expecting to see insect galleries. There were none, but my internet search soon yielded pictures of similar damage caused by sapsuckers.

Some of my bird feeding stations have fat to attract woodpeckers. And so, I stood vigil to see if the fat might attract sapsuckers as well. Pictures from my reference book aided the identification.

Setting up a bird feeding station at school would be easy. The cost is minimal and there is no complicated storage. The seed could be stored in class in a steel trash bin. The lid should seal well to prevent attracting mice or other rodents.

Students could participate by taking turns filling the stations. Throwing in a few old logs and stumps would provide a natural setting. Identifying the birds and studying their ecological niche would be a great science activity.  Students could also take part in the bird feeder surveys that are advertised from time to time.

Thanks for the submission Dave!

Science of Ice and De-Icing – Steve Spangler

From sand and gravel to rock salt and magnesium chloride, the people who maintain our roads are constantly searching for the most most innovative ways to keep our road clear of snow and ice. Our science guy Steve Spangler looks at the science of de-icing with a cool experiment you can try at home. Continue reading