Welcome to SciencetoyMaker!
You have found the non-commercial site for people who like to roll up their sleeves and make science toys and projects. You won’t find slick web pages here–more like the digital equivalent of a messy workshop. If you poke around, though, you’ll find good stuff. Science toy maker is a resource for inspired teachers, parents, teenagers, kids, home schoolers, science fair participants and citizen scientists everywhere.
All science toys and projects:
- are accessible (so cheap to make that nobody is excluded because of cost, and they don’t require special skills, tools, materials, or work facilities beyond perhaps a kitchen).
- have clear step by step video directions or text instructions with lots of pictures.
Most project instructions have been improved by helpful feedback from people like you, and some projects are entirely the work of guest authors.
I am Slater Harrison. Slater is usually a last name; but it is an ancestral last name that was recycled into my first name. After college, my wife and oldest daughter (an infant at the time) and I lived in the beautiful country of Bangladesh. I worked as an engineer for small-scale village manufacturing projects. It was there that I learned to use creativity to solve problems when the tools and materials that I wanted were not available. You can see the ingenuity with which people live in Bangladesh here.
When I returned to Pennsylvania I became a middle school and high school technology teacher for almost 3 decades. My students made interactive exhibits for a local children’s museum. We also hosted younger kids to teach them about technology.I left teaching when health issues made it impossible to maintain the all-day energy level that my students deserve, although I do volunteer for half-days still.
In 2017, having raised our kids to adulthood, my wife Naomi looked at the website, rolled up her sleeves and—one sprawling page at time—reorganized/updated it to WordPress. She also runs the Facebook page. And my daughter helps us with the most challenging technical issues.
We manufacture and sell a few products that are unavailable elsewhere. (Walkalong Glider Store, Dragonfly Helicopter Store) I donate my time; when you order, the money goes directly to the non-profit, education organization Physics Factory.
Less than 1% of my good ideas reach fruition as project on this site. When I develop science toys and I have trouble, my strategy is less about solving problems than about wearing them out! I’m not smart enough to just figure things out in my head, but I experiment relentlessly. First the experiments just raise more questions than they answer, but eventually projects reveal their secrets. I complain about how long it takes to develop projects; but the truth is that I’m as happy a duck in a pond when I’m experimenting. “Empirical” and “serendipity” are my two favorite words. I immensely enjoy hearing from people. Some projects have robust feedback (Walkalong Glider Gallery, Pop Pop Boat Gallery).
Please feel free to contact me whether you are having success or trouble. In fact, when I hear back from people have problems with a project, it’s valuable for me to make future iterations of instructions better.