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This simple system is an integral and important part of this unit. It allows students to see, feel, and experience how kinetic energy can be transformed to another kind of energy. It is an effective learning tool in the unit because it is reasonably easy to make, has just a few simple and visible components, and reliably transforms enough energy to light an LED (light emitting diode). The LED provides a satisfying light output which is easy to observe.


The fidget spinner generator is part of Mi-STAR Unit 7.1 It's first used in Lesson 2, and then in several other lessons that follow. The system is also useful for those not using the Mi-STAR curriculum. The materials can be adapted to be a stand-alone learning resource suitable for middle or high school.

Students observe how the system components work together and use modeling (diagram models, with labels and text) to understand the mechanisms at work in the system. For example to show their understanding of energy flow through the system, or the unseen mechanism between the spinning magnets and the wire coil.

Later on in the unit, the system is used as a model to help students understand more complex systems at work in the real world. Like all models, it has limitations in how closely it replicates more complex systems; such as those which create the electrical energy that we use in our homes each day. (All models are wrong, but some are useful!) Students are encouraged to identify and think about those limitations as they use the system as a model.

3D Print Creators
Douglas Oppliger
Jim Hertel

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Additional Files

Fidget Spinner 3D Print (451 kB)



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