10 Cheap or Free Science Tips

Roy Coleman Morgan Park High School

1744 W. Pryor Ave.

Chicago IL 60643

(773) 535-2550


To give the science and math teacher some classroom tips and/or hints that can be useful while being either free or inexpensive.

Materials and Strategy:

  1. To erase permanent marker from smooth, non-porous surfaces go over the permanent marker with erasable marker and then erase all of the marks.
  2. To photocopy blue ditto sheets put a transparent sheet of yellow plastic between the ditto and the copier. The clear yellow makes the blue print ‘look’ black to the copier.
  3. To keep your NiCd cell phone battery working for a long time, run it down on a regular basis. Call some number that you know will not answer and let it ring until the phone shuts itself off and then recharge it. Do this about once a month and it will last many years. (I call the school late at night and, if someone answers, hang up and call the police.)
  4. To get a REALLY BIG funnel and clear beaker, get a 5 gallon bottled water bottle and use a saw to cut the top off. Most bottles water companies will not sell or give away their bottles but many companies that have bottled water will give you the empty bottle if you tell them what you want it for and promise to not tell where you got it.
  5. To get free bowling balls go to the nearest bowling alley and ask for chipped or damaged balls. Generally they will give some to you free.
  6. To get a bowling ball that will float in water, get a ball with a weight of 11 pounds or less. Bowling balls with a weight greater than 12 pounds will sink.
  7. To make a cheap Cartesian diver, use soy sauce or ketchup packets from a fast food place. You do need to sort through them to find the ones that just barely float but about half of them work.
  8. For a cheap tornado bottle connector use PVC pipe cut into about 1" lengths. Using two – 2 Liter bottle caps, epoxy them into the pipe to form the connector. To make it easier to epoxy together, drill a small hole in one of the tops, rough up the inside of the pipe and the outside of each of the caps. The hole allows excess epoxy to seep out and the roughness gives the epoxy a good grip. After the epoxy is thoroughly set, drill a 3/8" hole through their centers to form the passage. Ten feet (enough for about 120 connectors) of PVC pipe costs about $1 in the Chicago area, meaning that you can make connectors for most of your students.
  9. To annoy the reminder of the faculty, have your students make a ‘turkey clucker’. Using a plastic cup, poke a small hole in the bottom, run a COTTON string through that hole and tie the inside end of the string to a toothpick. Wet the string and stroke it with another piece of cotton.
  10. Another way to annoy the rest of the school is to get an aluminum rod about ½" to ¾" in diameter and 3’ to 5’ long. Drop the rod on a tile or wood floor.
  11. Make a cheap accelerometer from a plastic peanut butter jar. Poke a small hole in the inner liner of the top and tie a knot in a string and pass it through the hole. On the other end of the string tie a cork or styrofoam ball so it does not quite touch the bottom. Submerge the jar in water and then put the lid on tightly. When the jar is held inverted, the cork or styrofoam ball will stretch the string and float toward the ‘top’ (bottom?) of the jar. Moving rapidly will cause the cork or ball to move in the direction of the acceleration.