This is one of the 48 projects for our Instructables: Made In Your Mind (IMIYM) exhibition at the Children’s Museum of Houston showing from May 26, 2012 - November 4, 2012. Produced in partnership with Instructables, IMIYM is an exhibit where families work together to build different fun, toy-like projects that help construct knowledge and skills related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while instilling a “do-it-yourself” attitude in kids so they feel empowered to explore, tinker, and try to make things themselves. To learn more, check out the article here.
This project was originally conceived of by Children's Museum of Houston staff. After some searching, we didn't find anything on Instructables like it, but there may be some on Instructables that are similar, in which case please let us know through comments. Often, the materials and process for building our projects are designed for use with a large number of visitors (we see over 800,000 annually) and the need to ensure safety in a mostly non-facilitated environment. So, yes, many of these projects have room for improvement in both materials and methodology, which is PRECISELY what we want to encourage the kids to do. So please do share your ideas for improvement and modifications!
Step 1: What You Need:
1 - 8½” x 11” Chipboard (we buy ours in bulk from U-Line, but a cereal box will do the trick)
1 – Chopstick (we purchase ours in bulk from Asian Food Grocer, but you can get a pair from your local Chinese take-out place.
1 – Chop Top Template (see attached file - it is a version of a Benham's Disk - you can Google up several versions)
4” Round Stencil (we used a piece of PVC drain from our Shop's scrap area, but a compass that can draw a 4" circle would work just as well)
Step 2: The Video
Step 3: Step 1
Step 4: Step 2
Step 5: Step 3
Step 6: Step 4
Step 7: Step 5
Step 8: Step 6
Step 9: To Use
The physics for why tops don't fall down when spinning is acutally spectacularly complicated. So apologies to physics aficionados for this simplification: when you spin a top like the Chop Top, you provide a force in a circular direction. The spinning top’s inertia keeps it moving in a circle, so gravity is unable to pull it down. Eventually, friction slows down the top enough that gravity is able to overcome the inertia and pull it down.
As for the colors, this is a type of optical illusion known as a Benham’s Disk where certain patterns of spinning black and white cause people to see colors. But the reason why is still unknown after over 100 years!