20 Physics Tricks

From the Institute of physics in celebration of the Einstein Year:
http://www.einsteinyear.org/get_involved/physicstogoresources/physicstogopdf/Physics Tricks - updated.pdf

Edible Candle

Core out one apple so that it is a cylinder without any skin. Take 1 almond sliver and stick it in the top. From a few feet away, it looks like a candle. Light the almond sliver - it burns just like a candle. Have them observe the change. Blow out the candle - observe change. (Good time to discuss chemical and physical changes.) Then, EAT the candle in one bite. This throws them. I never tell them what it was, although some guess. Have the kids make observations on various items or movements via writing. It gears them up for observations in labs ... do it until the kids seem a little bored, then bust out the candle. Helpful hints - leaving the candle in a ziplock baggie with a little orange juice prevents the characteristic browning.
contributed by J. Clearman

This trick actually works quite well with a banana. I use it for a halloween "magic" show and in dim light it looks just like a candle and you don't have to carve. Just cut off a piece of banana the height of the supposed candle, the almond as the wick.
contributed by A. Gerlach

I do the same thing with string cheese. It does not darken when exposed to the air, like banana and apple. It truly looks like a candle, with a slight waxy appearance.
contibuted by J. Harris

I would imagine jicama would work well. It is pure white more sturdy than a banana and won't brown.
cont. by A. Hubbard


Here's one I use for my 1st-year class, not the AP class: I call it "Toyland"

I have many toys in small brown bags. After an intro about how they know all
about how to play with toys, and even know the physics behind them, but may not
know the correct terminology, they select a bag and answer some physics questions
about the toy. Such as:
1. Why does it behave as it does?
2. Name another example where this same physics principle can be observed.
3. Would it work the same in the cabin of the space shuttle in orbit? (i.e. in
apparent weightlessness?)
4. Would it work the same in the cargo bay of the space shuttle in orbit?
(i.e. no air and apparent weightlessness?)

I have a wide variety of cheap (and hopefully unbreakable) toys. We all have
fun and I can start learning their names. Who wouldn't enjoy playing with toys
on the first day of school?

For the Toyland activity, I have a whole cabinet of toys:
Wind-up cars, pop-its (the little things that you invert and then let them pop up off the table), one of those microphones with a spring inside, a set of "clackers", different kinds of tops, a "rattleback," the suction-cup popper figures, anything wind-up like a beetle, frog, etc. Little noisemakers. Just about anything from the old-style carnivals. Magnets and magnetic toys. Whirly-gigs. Small guns with nerf or soft projectiles. Soft frisbee. Small periscope and kaleidoscope. Gyroscope. Pinwheel. Bobbleheads. Since my kids are grown, I've raided their stuff! I take donations of happy-meal toys from the students. And I always look for cheap toys when I travel.

Cindy Kvale

You can view video clips of astronauts playing with many toys here:

http://quest.nasa.gov/space /teachers/liftoff/toys.html

Dan Burns