SunnyTech ST05 Mendocino Motor
Like the magnetic field demonstrator set and Galton Board probability machine before it, I’ve got another educational-tool-slash-awesome-desk-toy for you: the SunnyTech ST05, which is a magnetically levitated, solar powered electric motor (aka “mendocino motor”).
If you’ve never seen one of these, it’s a pretty neat mixture of magic and physics:
The motor consists of a spinning shaft that is held up by repelling magnets, stabilized by resting a point against a wall. It is powered by solar panels mounted on the spinning shaft, which generate currents through coils of insulated wire.
Watch an example of a mendocino motor here:
While the energy output of this type of motor is really quite low, it’s still great for sparking a kid’s interest in science, and it just looks cool besides. It doesn’t take much light to get the thing to spin; it works on cloudy days nearly as well as sunny ones (where it’ll top out at 1,000 RPM), or you can even shine your phone’s flashlight on it.