Posted in Teaching and Learning


So, forever ago, I showed this in class when I was talking about ions and electric charge (I had been procrastinating the night before watching hunger games clips and ended up completely changing the lesson plans to talk about this)

I wondered if were even possible to do. At the time, we had a good discussion around it, and we went on to talk about static compared to current electricity etc.

Turns out, it is ‘totally possible’*  to do. The ‘device is called Lord Kelvins water dropper (or variations) and with the help of this clip

a student and I gave it a go after prize giving practice.

And it didn’t work……

2015-11-05 15.29.34 2015-11-05 15.21.34

2015-11-05 14.53.09

Which was a little vexing. We tried shifting the cans, altering the flow, drying the containers and using fresh water each time to ensure the water was earthed.

In the end there was one student and 3 teachers all pondering how we could get the bugger to go. So, despite the disappointment at no spark we still had a pretty cool discussion, I learned some physics and my student was involved in a conversation with teacher were he was equal. So even though it didn’t work, it was still an awesome learning experience for him, and some fun, learning and tinkering for all.

My solution is duck tape. So post exams, we are going to try again, but with duck tape like the other video has. Surely that will fix it – but will allow us to get the flow of water closer to the outside of the cans than the skewers could. I also wondered about cutting up some old steel gauzes to get a finer stream of water, or maybe hacking up some mesh from a sieve, although I’m not sure if that would have a coating on it.

But it was my first real attempt into a makerED type scenerio. It worked for me, but it was with one very keen student prepared to give up his free time. Not quite sure how I would upscale just yet…. Have to get the prototype working first 🙂

* like all physics experiments in my experience, they are all totally possible to do, I can just never seem to do them 🙂


One thought on “Tinkering

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