Does anyone need to be told what a Slinky(tm) toy is?? Okay, it is a
very slack spring, 2-7/8" dia x 2-1/2" long, compressed. It will stretch
out to about 5 or 6 feet long without deforming. That's the boring
part. The interesting part is that it "follows" itself. Slosh it from
hand to hand. Put in on the top step of stairs, flip the end down a
step, and watch it walk down stairs, or down an incline. Believe us, no
childhood (or adulthood) is complete without an original steel
Slinky(tm). It was hard for us to find it, but we are glad we did. You
should be too.
is best done with the sacred mother of all novelty items, the original Whoopee Cushion. Marlon Brando owned one. Of course he did, they're both American classics, except the cushion was born in Toronto. Ours is the classic 8" version.
2" flywheel in well made metal frame. The trick is the same as it has been for 100 years. Wind the string through the spindle, pull it firmly to set the flywheel spinning, and perform effortless balancing magic on pencil tips, string tightropes, and the like. We tend to forget that bicycles and aircraft navigation both rely heavily on gyroscopic principles. It's never too early to tell the kids. Besides, it's fun.
Sunprints (or cyanotypes, or photograms) are everyone's favorite photo-sensitivity experiment, from third-graders to graphic artists and fine artists. You pick: The Sunprinters are a dozen 3-15/16" square sheets of photosensitive paper, an acrylic backing sheet and instructions. The large Sunprint Kit has (15) sheets of 12" x 7-3/4" photosensitive paper plus a clear acrylic sheet of the same size. Great for classroom demonstrations, and can be used to make prints from photo negatives as well as interesting effects from opaque or translucent objects. All you add is sunshine and water.
Or the Swanee whistle. Whatever you call it, this little slide whistle (just consider it the smallest trombone in the universe) has an outsized musical history. No elevator has ever fallen in a cartoon without its accompaniment, and no jug band is complete without one, but Louis Armstrong also played one on his Hot Five recordings, and Ravel even required one in an opera score. In assorted plastic colors with a steel slide, 6-7/8" long x 1/2" dia.
You're buying the drinks and this wacky, yet debonair, bird with a top hat and plastic base (7" tall OA) can't get his fill of water. Get him started, and he dips his beak into your glass repeatedly. How? Fluid inside his glass body condenses from the evaporative cooling of the water off the bird's beak, making it top heavy and dunking it back into the water. The condensate rejoins the liquid pool in the bird's bulb, and he tips up again. Process continues indefinitely. It works, but it's not any more than moderately well made, and not any more than moderately priced. WARNING! The fluid and dye inside the bird can permanently stain, and the bird's glass body can easily be broken. Children are fascinated by the bobbing bird, and the educational possibilities are great. But they should watch him, not fondle him!! Manufacturer warning states this item is not intended for children 8 and under.
Another oldie but goodie. 5" high evacuated clear glass bulb mounted in a black stand, 3" in diameter at the top. A four bladed vane is balanced on a needle inside the sphere. Because opposite surfaces of the vanes are black and white, incident radiant energy is absorbed or reflected to a different degree. The result is a spinning vane. The brighter the light, the faster it spins. Simple, but compelling. Brief explanatory instruction sheet included.
A good basic kit with everything you need to build a very simple crystal radio. This is not hi-tech hi-fi. Geared for ages eight and up, it is a complete kit with wonderfully straight forward instructions which walk the experimenter through hooking up tuning needle, crystal diode, and earphone, and experimenting to find useful antennas. Excellent education, recreation and discovery device all at the same time. A simple kit with hours of fun in it.
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In addition to this fabulous on-line catalog of incredible stuff, American Science & Surplus has three great retail locations. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by! Store hours may vary. Feel free to call for store hours and directions.