You may remember what a Van de Graff generator does from school. The one you will most likely have seen would have had a large chrome dome, and if you put your hands on it, it would make your hair stand on end. This isn’t exactly an experiment that you can do with your kids at home, but you can do other really cool things thanks to the invention of the Fun Fly Stick from Unitech Toys. A Fun Fly Stick is a hand-held mini Van de Graff generator that can be used to make mylar shapes levitate and fly through the air. The effect is amazing, and it will enchant and mesmerize almost any child (and many adults, too). If you don’t believe me, then watch the video below.
What Will You Need? To do this experiment yourself, you will need the following items:
- A Unitech Toys Fun Fly Stick.
- A set of mylar shapes which you can levitate with it.
- Two AA batteries.
The first two items can usually be purchased together, and UK-based parents can purchase a set from here, while US-based parents can purchase a set from here. If you need to, you can also purchase the required batteries at the same time as you purchase your Fun Fly Stick kit. If you would prefer to purchase the Fun Fly Stick Science Kit (which has more complex experiments beyond the basic levitation in it – see variations below – and may be better value for money), then click here.
How Long Will It Take? Once you have your Fun Fly Stick, all you need to do is insert two AA batteries and you are ready to go. The levitation itself is almost instantaneous and even very young children (aged three or four) will get the hang of how it works within a few minutes (although they should be very closely supervised when using the Fun Fly Stick). Once they are up and running, it’s likely to keep them occupied for a very long time.
What Age Of Child Can Do This Experiment? This experiment is suitable for children aged three and older, but you should ensure that an adult or older child is the one operating the Fun Fly Stick for any children under the age of seven. With older children, you will still need to supervise them while using it.
How Does It Work? You can find out exactly how the Fun Fly Stick works by watching the following video.
What Core Life Skills Will It Help Develop? This experiment will help your child develop an understanding of how the world around them works, and specifically of how electricity works. It will also inspire an interest in science, a curiosity about how the world works, and will help them develop hand-eye coordination.
Variations: While the Fun Fly Stick can simply be used to have lots of fun making the mylar shapes float around the room, you can also do some pretty gnarly science with it that explores the full power of static electricity. This is something which you can do with older children (ages eight and over). To help with this, Unitech have produced a Fun Fly Stick Science Kit that comes not only with a Fun Fly Stick, but also with loads of extra goodies including a twenty-two page booklet outlining not just how the Fun Fly Stick works, but also how to conduct loads of different experiments with it. As you work through them, things will fly around, shoot across the room, spin and roll, stick to the walls, and you’ll even learn how to bend water. This is as fun as it sounds, and it’s the perfect way to keep children occupied when stuck inside on a rainy afternoon! You will most likely have to do at least some of the experiments with them (especially with kids under the age of fourteen), but spending time with you will only help increase their enjoyment of it all.
The booklet that accompanies this science kit is well-written and all the experiments are both easy to carry out, and fun to do. One that is always a favourite with kids is called ‘Fly Flying Saucers’ and involves placing a stack of small aluminium cup-cake cases on top of the Fly Stick. When it’s turned on, the cup-cake cases fly off into the air one at a time and float down to the ground. This is an experiment that most kids will want to do again and again, but you do have to be careful not to step on the cup-cake cases and squash them flat (which is easy to do in the mayhem that will ensue each time the Fly Stick is turned on!).
I have yet to find a UK-based supplier for the Fun Fly stick Science Kit, but you can purchase it from Amazon.com and have it shipped over from the US. This is a little expensive, but not that much more than purchasing a basic Fun Fly Stick kit in the UK and if your child is interested in science and experiments, then it’s well worth the cost. In addition, all the bits in the kit are fully re-usable so they can do the experiments over and over again, and this is a particularly useful thing to have stashed away for rainy days when kids are stuck inside and are likely to get bored. To purchase the Fun Fly Stick Science Kit, click here (for both UK and US-based parents).
Links To Purchasing Items You Will Need For This Experiment
About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.
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