Return to the Exploratorium Online Store

The first of the three Exploratorium Cookbooks - construction manuals with "recipes" for duplicating popular Exploratorium exhibits - was published in 1975. These manuals have been used by hundreds of museums around the world. Just as with any cookbook, the recipes have, in many cases, served as an inspiration and staring point for exhibit builders and hands-on educators who have added their own creative touches. The resulting exhibit creations have their own unique flavor and character.

During the past two decades, the Exploratorium has been an active advisor and consultant to museums around the world. Science and discovery centers in particular have sought out the expertise of the Exploratorium, the prototypical interactive museum. The Cookbooks have been one important way for many museums to get started with interactive exhibitry. The Exploratorium also maintains an Exhibit Services group, which builds commissioned replicas of exhibits for clients all over the world.

The Bernoulli Blower (aka Balancing Ball) Exhibit


(click on each image to see a larger version)

One of the more delightful exhibits included in the Cookbooks is the Bernoulli Blower, or Balancing Ball (Recipe 83 in Cookbook II), named after the Swiss scientist, Daniel Bernoulli. A ball floats, bobbing up and down, above a large plastic cone. When you get up close, you find out that the ball is floating on a stream of air (generated by a large fan) that flows up through the hollow cone. If you slowly try to pull the ball out of the airstream, you can feel it being pulled back in. Tilt the cone, and the ball will be suspended in space off to the side of the blower.

The Bernoulli Blower was one of the earliest exhibits created in the Exploratorium by founder Frank Oppenheimer. It was inspired by a similar demonstration used by vacuum cleaner salesmen in department stores in the 1950s.

The arresting image of a ball balancing on a vertically directed stream of air is a great attention-getter.

This exhibit has been replicated, adapted, and improved upon by many folks. Here's a sampling of

Bernoulli Blowers from around the world:

A group of science enthusiasts and educators from the California State University at Fullerton didn't have a museum building, so they made some portable exhibits and took their portable museum on the road. Here's their version of the Bernoulli Blower exhibit being used in a shopping mall.

 



When the Museo de los Niños in Caracas, Venezuela was preparing to inaugurate its new museum in 1981, the Bernoulli Blower was one of its first exhibits. Inspired by the Cookbook's suggestion to use a traffic cone for the exhibit, resourceful museum staff members decided to appropriate one from a local street, which happened to run in front of the police station. The staff members were promptly arrested. After some apologies and explanations, the police were convinced of the worthiness of the cause. The Museo de los Niños ended up with a continous and reliable supply of traffic cones to use as exhibit replacement parts, courtesy of the Dept. of Public Works.


One of the first exhibits created for a new interactive exhibit area by the National Technical Museum in Prague, Czech Republic, was the Bernoulli Blower. Adapted from the Cookbook, it helped introduce interactive science experiences to youngsters and adults alike.

 

After a summer vacation visit to San Francisco in the mid 1980s, two dedicated Barrington, Illinois high school science teachers returned home with a set of Exploratorium Cookbooks. They began working with students in their after-school Science Club, adapting Cookbook recipes for a hallway exhibition. Exhibit building became so popular that the club soon needed to borrow the school gymnasium for its collection. The club's version of the Bernoulli Blower added a hinge to the cone so that the airstream could be tilted to a 90° angle, parallel to the floor. With this modification, the students were able to find the point at which the pull of gravity became greater than the Bernoulli effect, causing the ball to fall to the floor. (The Exploratorium has since incorporated this feature into its own exhibit.) The enthusiasm that was generated in the school spread into the community, and eventually a permanent science discovery museum was established in the city.

On the island of Trinidad, the Yapollo Science Center project develops travelling exhibits that are set up in local high schools and shopping centers. The Bernoulli Blower they use comes equipped with a basket full of balls of different sizes and weights. Visitors can experiment with several balls in the airstream at once and see the variability of levitation.



In Sweden, at the Stockholm Science Center, the exhibit designers added a nozzle to let you play with moving the airstream in different directions.

The exhibit in the Children's section at Atlanta's SciTech Museum was designed so you can see (but not touch) the fan underneath. Their Bernoulli Blower uses an ordinary house fan and, since the airstream is not very focused, a very light, big ball.


Techniquest, the science center in Cardiff, Wales, used the Cookbook recipe as a starting point from which the Bernoulli Blower was developed further and refined. The airstream erupts from one side of a sleek yellow pyramid.



In January of 1993, our friends from Klutz Press were invited to participate at a big event for children at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., called the Salute to Youth. They asked us if they could borrow an exhibit for the occasion. The Bernoulli Blower was a logical choice, since a scaled-down version, using a hand-held hair dryer and a table tennis ball, is included in the Explorabook, co-authored by the Exploratorium and published by Klutz. Close to six thousand people were invited to the salute, including members of Congress and 800 inner-city youths. In the Kennedy Center's Grand Foyer, at the end of the Hall of States, the Exploratorium's humble Bernoulli Blower had one of its finest moments.

What if a museum would like a Bernoulli Blower but lacks the resources to build one? The Exploratorium's Exhibit Services group has created beautiful Bernoulli Blowers that have been purchased by science centers and museums all over the world, including the Children's Museum in Hermosillo, Mexico, the Japan Science Foundation, the National Museum of Natural Science in Tai Chung, Taiwan, ROC, and the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham.

 
This elegant version of the Bernoulli Blower is the one currently offered by The Exhibit Services group, which may be contacted by telephone at 415-528-4432 or through e-mail: joeh@exploratorium.edu.



On the other end of the spectrum, this exhibit has been widely used as a demonstration by teachers, including the Exploratorium's own Teacher Institute staff. Scaled down, and making use of common materials, the Exploratorium's classroom version relies on a hair dryer and a table tennis ball.



(Click on the above to see the online "Snack" version of the Bernoulli Blower)

Students can experiment with the same phenomena explored by the large-scale museum exhibit. The activity shown above has been published in the Exploratorium Science Snackbook Series, published by John Wiley and Sons, in the book entitled The Spinning Blackboard and Other Dynamic Experiments on Force and Motion.

Return to the Exploratorium Online Store


© 1996 - 2000 Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

Exploratorium: Bernoulli Blowers Around the World

Return to the Exploratorium Online Store

The first of the three Exploratorium Cookbooks - construction manuals with "recipes" for duplicating popular Exploratorium exhibits - was published in 1975. These manuals have been used by hundreds of museums around the world. Just as with any cookbook, the recipes have, in many cases, served as an inspiration and staring point for exhibit builders and hands-on educators who have added their own creative touches. The resulting exhibit creations have their own unique flavor and character.

During the past two decades, the Exploratorium has been an active advisor and consultant to museums around the world. Science and discovery centers in particular have sought out the expertise of the Exploratorium, the prototypical interactive museum. The Cookbooks have been one important way for many museums to get started with interactive exhibitry. The Exploratorium also maintains an Exhibit Services group, which builds commissioned replicas of exhibits for clients all over the world.

The Bernoulli Blower (aka Balancing Ball) Exhibit


(click on each image to see a larger version)

One of the more delightful exhibits included in the Cookbooks is the Bernoulli Blower, or Balancing Ball (Recipe 83 in Cookbook II), named after the Swiss scientist, Daniel Bernoulli. A ball floats, bobbing up and down, above a large plastic cone. When you get up close, you find out that the ball is floating on a stream of air (generated by a large fan) that flows up through the hollow cone. If you slowly try to pull the ball out of the airstream, you can feel it being pulled back in. Tilt the cone, and the ball will be suspended in space off to the side of the blower.

The Bernoulli Blower was one of the earliest exhibits created in the Exploratorium by founder Frank Oppenheimer. It was inspired by a similar demonstration used by vacuum cleaner salesmen in department stores in the 1950s.

The arresting image of a ball balancing on a vertically directed stream of air is a great attention-getter.

This exhibit has been replicated, adapted, and improved upon by many folks. Here's a sampling of

Bernoulli Blowers from around the world:

A group of science enthusiasts and educators from the California State University at Fullerton didn't have a museum building, so they made some portable exhibits and took their portable museum on the road. Here's their version of the Bernoulli Blower exhibit being used in a shopping mall.

 



When the Museo de los Niños in Caracas, Venezuela was preparing to inaugurate its new museum in 1981, the Bernoulli Blower was one of its first exhibits. Inspired by the Cookbook's suggestion to use a traffic cone for the exhibit, resourceful museum staff members decided to appropriate one from a local street, which happened to run in front of the police station. The staff members were promptly arrested. After some apologies and explanations, the police were convinced of the worthiness of the cause. The Museo de los Niños ended up with a continous and reliable supply of traffic cones to use as exhibit replacement parts, courtesy of the Dept. of Public Works.


One of the first exhibits created for a new interactive exhibit area by the National Technical Museum in Prague, Czech Republic, was the Bernoulli Blower. Adapted from the Cookbook, it helped introduce interactive science experiences to youngsters and adults alike.

 

After a summer vacation visit to San Francisco in the mid 1980s, two dedicated Barrington, Illinois high school science teachers returned home with a set of Exploratorium Cookbooks. They began working with students in their after-school Science Club, adapting Cookbook recipes for a hallway exhibition. Exhibit building became so popular that the club soon needed to borrow the school gymnasium for its collection. The club's version of the Bernoulli Blower added a hinge to the cone so that the airstream could be tilted to a 90° angle, parallel to the floor. With this modification, the students were able to find the point at which the pull of gravity became greater than the Bernoulli effect, causing the ball to fall to the floor. (The Exploratorium has since incorporated this feature into its own exhibit.) The enthusiasm that was generated in the school spread into the community, and eventually a permanent science discovery museum was established in the city.

On the island of Trinidad, the Yapollo Science Center project develops travelling exhibits that are set up in local high schools and shopping centers. The Bernoulli Blower they use comes equipped with a basket full of balls of different sizes and weights. Visitors can experiment with several balls in the airstream at once and see the variability of levitation.



In Sweden, at the Stockholm Science Center, the exhibit designers added a nozzle to let you play with moving the airstream in different directions.

The exhibit in the Children's section at Atlanta's SciTech Museum was designed so you can see (but not touch) the fan underneath. Their Bernoulli Blower uses an ordinary house fan and, since the airstream is not very focused, a very light, big ball.


Techniquest, the science center in Cardiff, Wales, used the Cookbook recipe as a starting point from which the Bernoulli Blower was developed further and refined. The airstream erupts from one side of a sleek yellow pyramid.



In January of 1993, our friends from Klutz Press were invited to participate at a big event for children at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., called the Salute to Youth. They asked us if they could borrow an exhibit for the occasion. The Bernoulli Blower was a logical choice, since a scaled-down version, using a hand-held hair dryer and a table tennis ball, is included in the Explorabook, co-authored by the Exploratorium and published by Klutz. Close to six thousand people were invited to the salute, including members of Congress and 800 inner-city youths. In the Kennedy Center's Grand Foyer, at the end of the Hall of States, the Exploratorium's humble Bernoulli Blower had one of its finest moments.

What if a museum would like a Bernoulli Blower but lacks the resources to build one? The Exploratorium's Exhibit Services group has created beautiful Bernoulli Blowers that have been purchased by science centers and museums all over the world, including the Children's Museum in Hermosillo, Mexico, the Japan Science Foundation, the National Museum of Natural Science in Tai Chung, Taiwan, ROC, and the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham.

 
This elegant version of the Bernoulli Blower is the one currently offered by The Exhibit Services group, which may be contacted by telephone at 415-528-4432 or through e-mail: joeh@exploratorium.edu.



On the other end of the spectrum, this exhibit has been widely used as a demonstration by teachers, including the Exploratorium's own Teacher Institute staff. Scaled down, and making use of common materials, the Exploratorium's classroom version relies on a hair dryer and a table tennis ball.



(Click on the above to see the online "Snack" version of the Bernoulli Blower)

Students can experiment with the same phenomena explored by the large-scale museum exhibit. The activity shown above has been published in the Exploratorium Science Snackbook Series, published by John Wiley and Sons, in the book entitled The Spinning Blackboard and Other Dynamic Experiments on Force and Motion.

Return to the Exploratorium Online Store


© 1996 - 2000 Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA 94123