Junk Science for Fun

Arvind Gupta has won national awards for his many contributions to science education in India. But when he introduces himself, he calls himself a toymaker. He’s not developing the type of toys that you would buy in a store or order online. His toys are the kind people can make using trash and other everyday materials.

Got a straw? Make a flute! A couple of foam cups or a CD? Turn them into a helicopter or a hovercraft! Gupta’s videos, which I saw posted on MeFi, quickly show how to make nifty toys from trash and simple materials. They also demonstrate scientific principles in action–a coin and an old hanger are used to show centrifugal force, for example.When it comes to making learning fun, Gupta has been going at it for longer than the Mr. Wizard and Science Guy shows. Listen to him talk about how he got started during the revolutionary 1970s, as a young IIT engineering graduate who left his job making Tata trucks to join a village science program, inspired by the slogan of the times: “Go to the people. Live with them. Love them. Start from what they know. Build with them.”

7 thoughts on “Junk Science for Fun

  1. Thanks for this post Pavani! I think I’ll make a project of making all the toys with my kids this summer!

  2. I saw his TED talk on youtube. He is a delightful man and his joy was utterly infectious. Thank you for posting about him. :0)

  3. I have a friend who hoped this was the way Tata’s MDI compressed air engine car would work.

  4. Those videos were so cute. That flute was pretty cool. Now I know why and how Indian folk songs get their distinctive flute sounds.

    Oh, and that helicopter video was cute as well. I’d love to see that helicopter fly in the air under the thrusts of its own power (rubberbands, perhaps?).

  5. This was a very interesting video it gave lots of ideas how make kids happy and joyful. This also was a very great science lesson to all of the motion of gravity. This was a thing we will have in stores that is five cents to fifty dollars on the market. Okay I am going to try to make a horn from paper.