Monday, May 6, 2013

Salad Spinner

The salad spinner might be one of those everyday engineered items that is worth revisiting with your child over and over again.

Preschool Engineering
During the preschool years, when their brains are simply working to identify patterns, the salad spinner is yet another mechanical marvel that goes in a circle. Unlike a wheel on a car (or bike or truck...), which traverses, the center of the salad spinner stays put. That will make it interesting in and of itself. Let your preschooler experiment with things that can go into the spinner and be amazed at the discoveries he or she will make!

If you're ready for a mess then use the salad spinner to make art. The Imagination Tree gives some step-by-step instructions complete with pictures. The splatter patterns will give you and your preschool engineer some ideas to ponder about centripetal force and make for some great kid-art.
Salad Spinner Art from

Elementary School Engineering
When your little engineer goes to grade school, you can revisit the engineering of the salad spinner. Was it a solution to an important problem? (In fact, the salad spinner was met with a lot of criticism (see Wiki).) What makes it cool? What might be not-so-cool about it? What could it be used for besides drying wet leaves? High schoolers could investigate the physics and mathematics of centripetal force. And they could consider the salad spinner from a design might it be improved or changed?

The "Toy"
There are different types of salad spinners - a big one and a little one that begin to spin when you push a button and one that has a crank. If you want a true toy then check out Chicco's Butterfly Spinner.

Pretend you are a preschool engineer and look around your kitchen. There are many wonderful tools for them to discover...!

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