The Exploratorium
Science Snacks
Snacks about Mechanics

Snack name

Description

Balancing Ball

Suspend a ball in a stream of air.

Balancing Stick

Does it matter which end is up?

Bernoulli Levitator

Suspend an object in air by blowing down on it.

Bicycle Wheel Gyro

A bicycle wheel acts like a giant gyroscope.

Bone Stress

Polarized light reveals stress patterns in clear plastic

Center of Gravity

How to balance a checkbook using the physics method.

Condiment Diver

Squeezing a plastic bottle filled with water and a condiment packet makes the packet sink. Letting go of the bottle makes the packet rise.

Coupled Resonant Pendulums 1

These pendulums trade swings back and forth.

Coupled Resonant Pendulums 2

By taking advantage of resonance, you can cause two pendulums to swing in identical cycles.

Descartes' Diver

To paraphrase the French philosopher René Descartes: "I sink, therefore I am."

Downhill Race

Two cylinders that look the same may roll down a hill at different rates.

Drawing Board

A pendulum moving in two directions creates beautiful designs.

Falling Feather

Prove to yourself that Galileo was right!

Giant Sieve Sorter

This is a sieve that sorts objects by size. Its screens act as boundaries, allowing objects that are small enough to pass through and preventing the passage of objects that are too large.

Marshmallow Puff Tube

Experiment with cardboard tubes of different lengths to see how far you can blow a marshmallow.

Momentum Machine

How ice skaters, divers, and gymnasts get themselves spinning and twisting faster.

Resonant Pendulum

Big swings from little pulls grow.

Resonant Rings

One reason not all buildings are equal in an earthquake.

Resonator

If you vibrate something at just the right frequency, you can get a big reaction.

Spinning Blackboard

Create graceful loops and spirals by drawing on a spinning dish.

Spinning Cyclinder

A spinning rod with a mark near one end is set rotating and spinning at the same time. Amidst the blur of the spinning cylinder, the mark appears three times, forming a stationary triangle.

Take It From the Top

How does this stack up?

Tired Weight

By measuring the amount of surface each tire presses onto the ground and the pressure inside each tire, you can calculate the weight of a car.

Vector Toys

A bob, or mass, hangs from a string attached to the front of the walking men. Watch as the string almost draws the vectors that make the toy work.

Water Spinner

Rotating water has a curved surface.

Whack-a-Stack

Go ahead - hit it hard!