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by Kailash NR


Pen Stand is a simple toy, which helps us observe magnetism and understand magnetic levitation. Here, its enjoyment is increased further by placing a coloured fan on top to aid in its spinning!

Video Overview

    • Handle the scissor with care

    • Make sure you don’t pinch yourself with the cutting plier

    • Be careful while bending the spoke; it may pain your fingers and hands doing it, but do not try to bend it with your teeth!

  1. Screw the spoke nut to one of the spokes about halfway down the thread
    • Screw the spoke nut to one of the spokes about halfway down the thread

    • The above has already been done for you; don't screw completely in!

    • Screw the other spoke into the free end of the nut

    • With the spoke nut acting as a 'bridge', the spokes must be firmly attached to each other, as though a single spoke

    • You need to make 4 bends in the spoke assembly. Although possible and a lot of fun with bare hands, you may also use cutting pliers to make the bends to make the job easier

    • At one end of the assembly, bend about 3cm of the spoke like a paper-clip, i.e. about 130-150⁰

    • Leaving about 1cm after the “clip” bend, bend the spoke at a right angle to the “clip” bend; the result should look something like a lamp post

    • Measure the height of the lamppost to be the pen length plus about 1cm, and bend the spoke again by 90⁰ such that the bend is in the same plane but a different direction as the “clip”.

    • Halfway down the remaining length of spoke, bend again by 90⁰, in the same plane as the “clip”. These final two bends complete your “stand”.

    • Take a piece of tape, and stick the spoke on the CD such that the last 2 bends create the base and the “clip” forms the top, like a lamp post.

    • Make sure that the only surface directly under the “lamppost” is that of the CD itself

    • Place one ring magnet on the top or the underside of the clip bend at the top of the stand

    • Place another ring magnet through the top of the pen such that it is firmly placed about 0.5-1cm from the top. If the magnet is loose on the pen, you can use a piece of tape or paper over the pen at the desired location, so that the magnet sits tightly at that place

    • Make sure the magnets are placed such that they attract each other when the pen is kept under the magnet on the “clip”

    • Take off the pen cap and place the pen on the CD directly under the magnet on the “clip”. Your pen should now be standing on its own; you now have a vertically levitating pen stand! You can give the pen a bit of a twirl, and it should keep spinning for quite some time…..

    • Cut a piece of cardboard exactly to the shape and size of the colour-square sticker given. Stick the colour-square to your cardboard piece

    • Cut and fold the colour-square, as indicated by the dotted and solid line.

    • Put the piece of double-sided tape under the colour-square and stick this to the top of the pen

    • Ensure that the pen continues to levitate and that the colour-square doesn't interfere with the rotation of the pen by hitting the stand

    • Place the pen stand under a ceiling fan, turned on to maximum, and enjoy the spinning levitating pen stand with a Newton disc!

    • If a fan is unavailable, or if there is no electricity, you may blow from the top as well to have your spinning pen!

    • The “clip” bend is not parallel to the ground, thereby creating an angular orientation of the magnet

    • Magnets not orientated correctly, i.e. repelling each other rather than attracting

    • Too much gap between the magnets, thereby causing the pen to fall

    • Too little gap between the magnets, thereby causing the pen to get joined to the top magnet

    • Magnet on the pen not placed firmly enough, thereby causing its position to change

    • Stand not taped firmly enough to the CD

    • Colour-square not folded or cut correctly

    • Colour-square or folds too big, thereby hitting the stand and interfering with the spin.

    • Where are the poles of a ring magnet? There are 4 surfaces of a ring magnet; which ones are the poles? If they are the top and bottom, how come the magnets stick even on the circular sides? What about the inner curved surface?

    • What will happen if you increase the weight of the pen?

    • How long can you keep the pen spinning with a single twirl?

    • What is the maximum distance between the magnets before the pen falls?

    • What is the minimum distance between the magnets before they stick to each other?

    • What is the maximum angle to which you can tilt the pen before it falls?

    • Use more magnets and/or bigger magnets to make bigger models, e.g. Standing Wickets for cricket

    • Draw the Free Body Diagram (FBD) of the Pen Stand

    • Figure out the magnetic force required to make the toy work

    • Theoretically, what is the maximum angle to which you can tilt the pen before it falls? (Think about what this angle depends on). Is this the same as what you found in the Observations?

    • Can you explain why the pen stays spinning for so long?

    • Make a pen stand with a different base

    • Place a pen cap at different locations on the pen and use small weights (ball bearings) to test the limits of the pen stand’s balance

    • Make a pen stand with materials other than a spoke

    • Make a pencil stand instead

    • Make a non-vertical pen stand, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Kailash NR

Member since: 05/02/2017

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