Variable Speed Fan With Snap Circuits, Kano Computer

In a previous How-To Guide I demonstrated how to blink a Snap Circuits LED with the Kano Computer...

IUPUI researchers use stem cells to identify cellular processes related to glaucoma

INDIANAPOLIS -- Using stem cells derived from human skin cells, researchers led by Jason Meyer...

Pi Day 2016 Project

For Pi Day 2016, I’ll demonstrate how to flash a Snap Circuits LED with the Kano Computer (my...

LIGO, Gravitational Waves, And Laser Interferometry

UPDATE: LIGO has detected gravitational waves. ...

Click here and sign up to be a participant on ABC’s Shark Tank. You’re probably thinking “what does appearing on a TV show have to do with The Science Play and Research Kit?” Let’s put things into perspective: you’ve designed the perfect science kit, you’ve won the $50,000 prize…then what? If you’re not thinking right now about how to build a sustainable business around your kit, then you’ve probably failed before you began. We’ll take a look at a few business models you may wish to consider. Part 1 of “Science Play and Research Kit: Business Models, Packaging, and Marketing” discusses Open Design.

Open Source Hardware

In my previous article, I posted the press release for the Science Play and Research kit. There are 76 days left in the competition. I can only produce one article per week due to my work schedule thus I’d only be able to come up with a chemistry set with 11 experiments. It wouldn't be much of a chemistry set would it? So, I’ve decided not to actually enter the competition but instead to post ideas for the set so whoever wants to use them can incorporate them into their design for SPARK. 

According to the FAQ page:

Does the entry need to be based on the science of chemistry?

Dear Science 2.0 writers:

Do any of you want to collaborate on developing a Science, Play and Research Kit (SPARK)? Here's the press release:

It seems nowadays that makers (1) like to carry spare electronic parts around in a mint tin. Maybe I’m just Macgyver-old-school and prefer the challenge of getting along with just duct tape and a Leatherman Juice (OK, it is indeed an upgrade from Angus' Swiss Army Knife).


You can think of a capacitor somewhat like a rechargeable battery. It is able to store energy temporarily except that a rechargeable battery will last much, much longer than a capacitor. The simplest capacitor is two conducting plates with a non-conducting material such as paper sandwiched between them. You can make your own capacitor using aluminum foil and a book.

Parts Needed:

Aluminum foil from your kitchen

A book with very thin pages (I used my copy of Engineering Fundamentals)

555 Timer IC (I used a KIA555p, but the NE555 will do just fine)

Snap Circuit Parts needed:

An ordinary No. 2 pencil contains graphite (from the Greek γράφω, graphō which means "to write" or "to draw").  Graphite conducts electricity and you can use your pencil and a piece of paper to draw your own potentiometer then experiment with it using the 555 test circuit.

Parts needed for pencil and paper potentiometer:

No. 2 pencil

Blank white 8 ½ X 11 sheet of printer paper

Clear adhesive tape such as Scotch tape (optional)