FLAT SCIENCE: Ideas for Educators' Business Cards
©1997 William J. Beaty

  • - Tiny paper envelope printed as business cards, contains polarizers, mica
  • - hole with foil, pinhole for seeing eye-entopic phenom
  • - hole with foil, dual pinhole for 2slit diffraction
  • - hole w/congo blue
  • - hole w/fresnel prism, walk funny or feel taller
  • - hidden fluor stamp ink URL, for UV light activities
  • - green film, use double-stick tape
  • - FS mirror for loudspeaker w/laser pointer

Print a starfield on the card (black random stars.) Photocopy the same pattern onto transparencies. Place them together, rotate slightly, and weird circular "swirl" appears. Move it very slightly and the "swirl" moves rapidly. A random-moire effect I stumbled across in the 1980s.

Cut up a large thin flexible fresnel lens. Every piece still works, but most will act like lens+prism. 9" fresnel sheets can be found for $2.

Card with phosphorescent ink artwork or message. But use Strontium Aluminate pigment, it glows blue instead of green, and keeps glowing about 10X longer than zinc sulfide cupric.

Print out cards on "Goldenrod" orange paper. It turns bright red in alkaline, ammonia Windex etc. Nasty humor: make "saliva test strip" portion on the card, with printed instructions to wet it. Rub a tiny bit of dry baking soda on the test section, but only on certain cards. When wet, only those cards turn red. "ALIEN DNA TEST, WERE UFO PILOTS ACTUALLY SOME OF YOUR ANCESTORS?" Also, if the card is wet with salt water, a 9V battery terminal will turn it red and anti-red (make red marks, then rotate the battery to erase them again.) Hidden message: block-print some transparent krylon paint onto cards. When wetted with bicarb water or ammonia, the unpainted parts turn red.

Inexpensive: buy thermochromic color-change ink or paint (find pigment powder on eBay.) Use it to coat the cards yourself. The usual paint is black or magenta, then vanishes at 85degF. The black ink can be used to hide photos or messages, then revealed when warmed w/hands or under your arm. Expensive custom run of promotional ad color-change cards from Hallcrest.

Card with a hole in the center, piece of "congo blue" filter over one side, "Primary Red" over the other side. Look through the filters at bright outdoors, and you see near-IR scenery.

Photocopy some fine Moire patterns onto transparent laserprinter sheets, cut up the sheets. You can even make a 3-cycle animation on a card, and provide a transparent moire grating card which slides over the image to animate.

3D printout card: thin plexi with slot-array photocopied on one side, stereo 3D scene visible in slots.

Double-slit diffraction card: make a card with a small hole, aluminum foil glued over hole. Make a dual-tip needle hole-puncher with adjustable needle spacing. Poke paired-pinholes in each foil. When placed against eye in the sun, you see "Bokeh" disk. But if done right (very small holes, very close together,) there will be vertical stripes from 2-slit interference, e.g.

Same as above, but single pinhole. Place it over eye and view sun. In the "Bokeh" disk you see several eye entopic phenomena


  • - Ultra-simple telescope: plastic objective, eyepiece, pinhole
  • - foil black pinhole, "floaters" viewer in sunlight
  • - Laser and coincell and tiny FS mirror, for loudspeaker lightshow
  • - Congo blue and red, and IR-on-black image sign.
  • - Wide adh Al foil strips for bottle-motor. Glass test tube, rod
  • - Ultra-sensitive charge detector, JFET, LED, NE-2, batt clip
  • - replica hand-drawn hologram, logo or secret message
  • - score-and-snap acrylic mirror, instant disgustoscope.
  • - 6ft wire, neo rectangle, 2 paper clips, simple D-cell motor
  • - metal powder packet, just add IPA alcohol and blow on it
  • - chopped steel-wool, just add to baby-oil. MAGNET VIEWER sticker.
  • - Polarizers, mica sheet, polycarb stress-sensitive block, cellotape
  • - green mag film, sheet-magnet, tiny neo magnet
  • - Zinc foil, copper foil, tiny bulb, for 1volt vinegar battery
  • - IR Phototransistor, vis-block filter, 5V LED, 9V batt connector
  • - Phosphor card, UV LED, 3V coin cell -

    If you can have some 1/32" plastic sheet cut up into cards, you can make your own inexpensive 3D image plates. 3 or 4 photos taken from different horizontal positions, sliced into narrow vertical strips and interleaved. Then a moire transparency which acts as pinhole lens (black opaque with narrow vertical slits.) The color image goes on the back of the clear plastic spacer-plate. Slide the moire transparency around until you see the 3D. (If the 3D image is a skeletal polyhedron or similar, then the "wrong" position of the moire sheet will turn it inside-out, like a bowl.)

    Painted card with zinc sulfide powder and burned thorium lantern mantel powder, sparkles constantly in pitch dark room. (Joking!)

  • - mica $2.85 grainger 1507607 for heatgun, crossed polarizers
  • - metal powder packet for rubbing alcohol bowl
  • - congo blue & red, and UV sheets
  • - printed IR sign (need special black paper (blue dye))
  • - goldenrod paper, joke cards
  • - goldenrod paper, bicarb-soaked paper
  • - goldenrod paper soaked in salt
  • - various moire transparencies, random stars, animated cat, 3D sign
  • - green mag film
  • - green mag card w/sheet magnet, supermag chip
  • - 3D postcard sign layers, need 1/32" .0625 polycarb
  • - Business card which is also a tiny paper envelope
  • - "9-volt laboratory™," just add a 9v batt
  • - "Flat Science™", slightly larger than business cards
  • - Red and green transparent plastic for "Red Green Electricity" and a few 2" disks of red and green for showing static electric imbalance
  • - 2 LEDs, 2 FETs, 9V batt clip, for Charge Detector activity
  • - Swatch of xxxx steel wool for oil-bottle magnet viewer (or even a packet of chopped-up steel wool powder)
  • - Adhesive foil, tiny test tubes, for pop-bottle electrostatic motor
  • - Moire pattern sheets, weird stars effect (printout onto transparencies)
  • - Magnet rubber and tiny supermagnet (for green magnetic film, secret messages)
  • - Green magnet-detector film, laminated into cards (a bit expensive)
  • - NE-2 neon pilot light for static electricity activity
  • - Glass beads packet for frying pan and flashlight bulb activity
  • - square of black polycarbonate plastic for hand-drawn holograms
  • - a simple hand-drawn hologram of the letter "V" (stamp these out with embossing?)
  • - scratch-holo, little picture made with spinning dremel tool
  • - packet of zinc sulphide glow powder, tiny sample of blue 7-hour glow powder
  • - Website CDROM, entire amasci/ contents
  • - Plastic with fine lines for "ghost orb detector camera"
  • - Mirrored polycarb for small disgustoscope with score-and-snap lines
  • - Polaroid plastic and stressed clear tape or chip of polycarbonate for pliers
  • - Slightly dangerous
    Carbon cloth veil and a dead CDROM (for microwave oven plasma)
    Theatrical filter squares, congo blue and red, the DIY infrared filter
    small cube of foam-soap
    mexican snack food cartwheels
Created and maintained by Bill Beaty. Mail me at: .
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