Customizable Magnet Wheel Track
Kids can be entranced by the physics of magnets and simple kinematics with this handheld magnetic track and wheel.
How It Works and What Kids Learn
At its simplest, the track is a classic U-loop made of stainless steel (i.e. a magnet). A wheel with two magnetic nubs each on opposite faces of the wheel jut out. The wheel is placed on the track so the nubs rest on the parallel tracks. When the long track is tilted away from the user, the wheel rolls away and around the sharp bend. Tilted towards the user, the wheel rolls over the open ends and magically doesn’t fall off. (Except it’s not magic, it’s basic physics.)
Place the wheel between the tracks so each nub touches a track in parallel, and start rolling. To switch up the track, disconnect the track for looped ones, bumpy ones, etc. The special bendable track lets the child create their own challenging landscape for the wheel. Because the toy is rather intuitive to use, it can be played with by kids ages 6 and up.
The steel track can be made from a cheap steel bar or wire that one can heat up and shape relatively easily. The bendable track can be a soft wire with some steel content. The wheel can easily be made as a plastic wheel with pieces of magnet stuck to the sides.