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Jaw Models

Cardboard animal jaws as examples of levers.

What it shows:

The biting force of an animal depends upon the magnitude, direction and point of application of forces exerted by the jaw muscles. A mammalian jaw exerts a greater force than does a reptilian jaw despite a more delicate joint structure, because evolution has improved the physics of eating.

How it works:

The demonstration consists of two dimensional cardboard models of reptilian and mammalian lower jaws (see figure 1). Both are about 30cm in length. They are pivoted...

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Mechanical Linear Amplifier

What it shows:

One falling domino knocks down two, which in turn knock down three, etc. Use it to model cascade signaling.

How it works:

Twenty five rows of dominoes are set up in front of the first domino. Each successive row is comprised of one additional domino, e.g. the 2nd row has two, the 3rd row three, ... the 25th row has twenty five. A total of 325 dominoes get knocked down in a couple of seconds after the 1st one falls.

The action can be contrasted to a second board which has 11 rows of 30 tiles each, for a total of...

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Fakir Physics

The concept of pressure is demonstrated by lying on a bed of nails.

What it shows:

The lecturer (or someone else) lies on a bed-of-nails without discomfort, thus demonstrating the concept of pressure, which is the force per unit area. For added drama the person is sandwiched between two beds of nails with the added weight of a cinder block on top. The cinder block can be broken with a sledge hammer.

figure 1: A supermarket tabloid reports on how macho man pulls off this stunt.
...

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Friction Blocks

Selection of blocks that slide down a variable-angle inclined plane to demonstrate the various aspects of friction.

What it shows:

There are actually three (or more) demonstrations under the wing of this title: (1) A block or box is placed on an adjustable inclined plane which can be raised until the block slides. The tangent of the angle then gives the coefficient of friction between the surfaces. (2) The difference between dynamic and static friction may be demonstrated. A large dial spring balance is used to determine the forces required to drag a box on...

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Vector Arrows

Wooden arrow vectors, hand held or mountable.

What It Shows:

Various length and color, wooden arrow vectors can be hand-held, placed (magnetically) on the blackboard, or stuck into a wooden block to define a coordinate system. Small vector blocks can be used as body axes or to visualize coordinate transformations.

...

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Loaded Beam

loaded beamsBeam supported at ends with platform scales and toy truck as load to demonstrate moment arms.

What it shows:

The concept of moment arms is exemplified by this model of a truck on a bridge.

How it works:

A beam (board) supported...

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Stack of Blocks

A dozen blocks are stacked on top of each other over the edge of the table seemingly defying gravity.

What it shows:

N objects of unit length can be stacked on top of each other so that the top object sticks out over the edge of the lecture bench by a distance equal to 1

1/2 + 1/4 + 1/6 + 1/8 + ... + 1/(2N)

For N approaching ∞, the diverging infinite sum suggests that the top of the pile can stick out an infinite distance. In actuality the divergence is slow, 2 and our more practical stack of a dozen 2 × 4 "blocks" can...

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Vector Sum of Forces

Magnetic blackboard mechanics with spring balances and weights.

What it shows:

Solve a problem in composition of concurrent forces by graphical or trigonometric means.

How it works:

The blackboard mechanics set1 includes apparatus to demonstrate most of the common laws of statics and some dynamics. The pieces of apparatus are held on the blackboard by magnets and, although not large, are fairly visible in the lecture hall. A booklet with a few dozen suggested demonstration experiments is included in the set.
...

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Leaning Ladder

Small ladder against wall with variable load and inclination.

What it shows: 

A small ladder is leaned against a vertical wall. A weight can be moved up succeeding steps to find when the ladder will slip and fall down. The forces holding the ladder in equilibrium are in consideration here.

How it works: 

A short (4 foot) step-ladder leans against the wall. The reaction of the wall may be considered horizontal, tangential friction being negligible (the edge of the ladder is covered with a sheet of...

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Tension Puzzler

What It Shows

The two ends of a dial-type spring balance are each connected to strings which run over pulleys. With equal weights attached to the ends of the strings, the spring balance indicates the value of one of the weights.

How It Works

The demonstration is presented to the class as a puzzler: the spring balance is turned around so that the class can't see the dial. Students are invited to guess what it is reading. Invariably they guess the sum of the two weights. The lecturer then turns the face of the dial gauge around showing them the error of...

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Irregular Lamina

center of gravity - center of mass - equilibrium

What it shows:

The center of gravity fixed in (or outside) the object always orients itself with minimum potential energy on a vertical line below the support point. When an irregular shape is thrown into the air, it is seen to rotate about its marked center of gravity or center of mass (COM).

How it works:

We have several irregular lamina to suspend and/or throw in the air. They are (1) an amoeba shaped piece of masonite pegboard, (2) a cut-out map of the U.S. glued...

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Center of Mass

Irregular lamina with marked center-of-mass tossed in air.

What it shows:

The center of gravity fixed in (or outside) the object always orients itself with minimum potential energy on a vertical line below the support point. When an irregular shape is thrown into the air, it is seen to rotate about its marked center of gravity or center of mass (COM).

How it works:

We have several irregular lamina to suspend and/or throw in the air. They are (1) an amoeba shaped piece of masonite pegboard, (2) a cut-out map of the U.S. glued...

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Shoot-n-Drop

Ball shot horizontally, one dropped vertically; both hit the ground at the same time.

What it shows:

The horizontal and vertical motions of a projectile are independent of each other. So two objects falling under the influence of gravity from the same height will reach the ground simultaneously, regardless of their horizontal velocities.

...
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