Anyone know what these things are…?

by Stephen Hobley on March 20, 2012

We helped out set up a science room for a local school. Most of the things we found had an obvious function, but we were unable to figure out a couple things. Anyone got any idea what these do?

(…nothing to do with Harry Potter…)

(The patent search didn’t really turn anything up…)


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Blaise Pascal March 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm

According to the patents, the bottom item is a microscope. The wooden block is set on edge, so the metal piece is on top and the two knobs/cams are on the side. The red knop rotates the mirror, allowing the user to direct a light source up through a hole in the top surface. A microscope slide mounts on the top surface of the wooden block, and the two metal leaves hold a glass bead above the slide and light-hole. Turning the black cam raises and lowers the glass bead adjusting the focus.

It is designed to be an easy to use, cheap to make, microscope for elementary school use.

T.M. March 20, 2012 at 1:05 pm

The last 3 pictures are a simple microscope. The USPTO has patents on file for both of those numbers with complete descriptions of the aparatus:
(note: You will need to be able to view tiff files in your browser or use something like Google Chrome to inspect the broken image and save it off)

No idea what the top thing is, something to do with the properties of different metals, I imagine.

Stephen Hobley March 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Awesome – thanks!

We were actually able to to figure out what the “magic wand” was for, and yes it was something to do with the properties of the different “spokes”.

Gareth March 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm

The “wand” is a thermal conductivity experiment. There is a similar one here:

“Find out which metal conducts heat best by placing a small amount of wax at the tip of each rod and heating from beneath in the centre. Features brass, copper, nickel, aluminium and iron. Using the wooden handle, hold the brass hub over a flame, the wax will melt at different times.”

michael March 21, 2012 at 10:28 am

and? what was it with the magic wand?

Chris Raynerd April 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Hi. The magic wand is to show the conductivity of different metals. A simple way to use it is to use petroleum jelly to stick some drawing pins to the end of each rod. You heat the rod in the very centre where all the sections meet and the pin that drops off first shows which metal conducted the heat the quickest- most thermal conductivity. Hope that helps!

Rice Krispie treats May 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

Gareth is right.. it is a thermal conductivity experiment tool. I love figuring out what things like that are…

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