ideas: December 2007 Archives
Here's a great article at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories showing you how to make a skittering robot out of a toothbrush, a little electric motor, and a watch battery. Nice little film there, too
We did something similar to this on the last series of The Big Bang, using scrubbing brushes and the cheapest electric toothbrushes we could find. You glue a stick to the toothbrush head so it waggles back-and-forth, then rubber-band the whole toothbrush to the scrubbing brush. On a smooth surface the resulting contraption will wander around – ours mostly went backwards, as I recall.
You'll find more about these – and a bunch of other great ideas – in Neil Downie's terrific book 'Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly, and 27 other Saturday science projects' (we're not kidding, that really is the title).
We've only just heard of this project sponsored by Google and Specialized bicycles. Sadly it's now too late to enter for this year, but making pedal-powered contraptions was still a genius idea. There are videos of dozens of entries; our particular favourites include the bicycle tennis server, the elegantly-simple but perhaps mildly pointless pedal hacksaw, the amphibious bike-yak (though – hang on a minute – why doesn't it sink again?), and the bicycle water distiller, which must be darned hard work.
At this stage, the films on SciCast are skewed a bit too heavily towards physics. We need more chemistry! We need more earth sciences! We need more biology!
"Oh, but," everyone says, "it's so much harder to find ideas for biology demonstrations."
"Pish and twaddle!" we respond (for we really do talk like that at SciCast HQ).
"Let us point you towards this most excellent resource of soil-related activities, Soil-net.com."
A huge and wonderful site. And as my grandfather used to say "Where there's muck, there's cinematic gold."
Here at Planet SciCast orbiting world headquarters, we continue to be huge fans of the Instructables site. Catching our eye this week is: making potato chips in the microwave. Take lots of care if you do this (sharp knives, hot things, and all that): and film yourself doing it! Then send us the film, so we can all be jealous of your crisps. Unless you make ginger and blue cheese flavour crisps, in which case we're fine, thanks.
'But where,' I hear you ask, 'is the science?'
Ah, there's plenty. Why do the crisps go crispy, for starters?