From telecommunications and transportation to toasters,  electromagnetism is a foundational force powering our modern world. Yet  it’s a phenomena that seems more of the realm of magic than science. For the past six months, Mike Pollock, our Making Wizard, has been tinkering with electromagnetism, refining existing kits and creating new ones. The result is more stable, less complex versions of our Hopping Coil, Simple Motor and the addition of a high speed motor made from wine corks, toothpicks and pipette bases aptly named the Cork Rotor Motor. Beyond the ingenious engineering on display, is a powerful learning tool for students and adults alike.

When Mike first unveiled  his cork rotor motor prototype to the education team – see video – we just  stared in wonder. But, being assembled from recycled materials without glue or tape, the kit is not plug and play. Instead it requires tinkering, adjustments and modifications to keep it spinning freely. This drives exploration, experimentation, builds familiarity with underlying concepts, etc. So, forced to engage, we tinkered with the Cork Rotor Motor, prompting numerous questions and gaining a tangible understanding of an otherwise mysterious phenomena. 

Whether or not you teach electromagnetism, you should give it a go.  Mike is hosting an Electromagnetism workshop where he’ll use the Cork Rotor Motor kit plus others such as the hopping coil -see videos below – to teach the fundamentals of electromagnetism.  Read more about it and sign up here: Science Workshop: Exploring Electromagnetism with Simple Materials

The cork rotor motor will be on the shelves this fall. 

Two versions of the Hopping Coil kit. Tinker with these and learn more about electromagnetism. See link to workshop above.