Science has had something of an image-shiftthanks to significant scientific events like the building of the Large Hadron Collider, that have engaged many. There are dozens of science gadgets on the market and innovative project ideas spring from many sources, including The Association for Science Education, The Science Museum and Science-Teachers.com.
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With a water sprayer, glass sphere and source of white light, you can make your own rainbow. Set up a lamp behind a glass sphere, like an ornamental crystal ball, light fitting or goldfish bowl, and switch it on. Darken the room by closing the curtains and switching off the room light. Spray the area in front of the glass globe and a rainbow should form in the air.
A neat gadget for showing how the planets orbit around the sun is a motorised solar system. You can adjust the relative starting positions of the planets so they are accurate for the date. When you switch on, the planets rotate around the sun, in keeping with their true solar motion. If you turn off the room light, the planets appear to hang in mid-air. The gadget doubles as a planetarium as it can also project star constellations onto walls.
Study the science of forces by launching a rocket with a kit. The kit consists of the launcher, two rockets and the booster mechanisms. The booster mechanisms need compressed air to enable them to deliver the force needed to launch the rocket. You supply this with a few blasts from an ordinary bicycle pump. There are also other slightly different rocket launching systems on the market, which use water pressure or a battery powered air compressor.
Other innovative scientific gadgets on the market include programmable robots, available in many sizes and levels of sophistication. Many different chemistry sets are available, including one that focuses on making (safe) explosions. If you are bored with ordinary fridge magnets, you can now buy one like a Mars rover that will defy gravity and move around your fridge at will. You can even run your own ecosystem by sowing seeds in a mini biosphere and controlling its rain.
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