Fidget Spinners Put The ‘S’ In STEAM Education

Centrifuges are vital to the study of medicine, chemistry, and biology. They’re vital tools to separate the wheat from the chaff figuratively, and DNA from saliva literally. Now, they’re fidget spinners. [Matlek] designed a fidget spinner that also functions as a simple lab centrifuge.

The centrifuge was designed in Fusion 360, and was apparently as easy as drawing a few circles and hitting copy and paste. Interestingly, this fidget spinner was designed to be completely 3D printable, including the bearings. The bearing is a standard 608 though, so if you want to get some real performance out of this centrispinner, off-the-shelf bearings are always an option. The design of this fidget spinner holds 2 mL and 1.5 mL vials, but if your lab has 500 μL tubes on hand, there are handy 3D printable adapters.

Still think using a toy to do Real Science™ is dumb? Contain your rage, because a few months ago a few folks at Stanford devised a way to build a centrifuge out of paper. This paperfuge can — at least theoretically — save lives where real commercial centrifuges or even electricity aren’t available. Fidget spinners save humanity once again.

65 thoughts on “Fidget Spinners Put The ‘S’ In STEAM Education

    1. Why would we want to resist the urge to comment on this?

      The acronym is being subverted to dilute and destroy its purpose. On a site dedicated to technology why would we not call that out?

      Art is important to humanity but the US is not falling behind in art education causing employee shortfalls and potential economic stagnation. The STEM program has a purpose to push people because it’s hard and people aren’t choosing it. Art, History, Accounting, whatever, are important but they are not part of this education push because they aren’t as hard and people don’t avoid them.

      Most importantly- pushing STEM does not imply that any other field is unimportant- in spite of whether it makes non STEM educators feel jealous.

      Anyone who adds extra letters to STEM is ignorant of the purpose of the acronym. We would expect better from editors here.

          1. How’s that article making the case for the ‘A’ coming along Brian?

            Honestly, your comment says it all. You use ‘STEAM’ to aggrevate readers, while refusing to engage in a decent argument. Brian, that is very insulting your readers and really makes you a bad author. Especially given the importance of arguments in STEM (while not at all for ‘A’* – are you secretly an art-major Brian?). You dropped your hypothesis for the ‘A’, now make your case. Or is it too hard for you to come up with even a faint argument? Seems more and more like it…
            If this goes on much longer I suppose we should all try that Benchoff-blocker.

            *Since art can be anything and everything. Which does make for funny moments. Remember this one? https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/27/pair-of-glasses-left-on-us-gallery-floor-mistaken-for-art

            OT: I’m not much for fidget spinners, but having used plenty of centrifuges I do like the project. Kudo’s to [Matlek]!

        1. I see.

          I suppose I naively assumed that the editors actually cared about their audience and subject matter.

          If they are, in fact, just trolling us for ad views then there isn’t much reason to comment at all is there?

    2. I can already see the lines to ER from cases of butthurt.

      But there’s no reason to be upset, Benchoff is one of the greatest HaD writers and I’m excited waiting for the next article about fidget spinners or STEAM.

  1. Technically you are not fidgeting if you are doing something that has a real purpose (being ADHD I spent an entire lifetime fidgeting, so I an somewhat of an expert)..

  2. Stop referring to STEAM. The idea of STEM is to emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics in order to draw students toward the harder sciences and as an alternative to the arts and humanities which have swollen their space in the education sphere beyond usefulness. STEAM is variously a way for students and teachers of easier subjects to feel like they got a trophy and, more cynically, a way for educators in the humanities to get in on STEM grants that they should not qualify for based on the original idea of STEM.

    There can be valid ways to incorporate the arts into STEM fields of course, but the A is plenty well funded with plenty of supporters and lots of kids going into it.

    1. Technology:

      From Ancient Greek τεχνολογία ‎(tekhnología, “systematic treatment (of grammar)”‎), from τέχνη ‎(tékhnē, “art”‎) + -λογία ‎(-logía‎).

      1. I take your point to an extent if we are talking about ‘artisans’ in the traditional sense, people who have a genuine craft or trade, there is some kind of overlap with what we call ‘technology’, but I think its a bit of a hijack to get ‘art’ into STEM (which was already a total gimmick in the first place, but maybe had some merit hiding in amongst the BS). Where do we draw the line though? How about some of that modern art stuff, where people just basically take a dump on some canvas and call it ‘an outpouring of existential angst’ or some such.

    2. We need a HaD Prize entry that provides examples of using scripting or perhaps even whole browser plug-ins to REMOVE (or maybe just put an escape char before) the A from STEAM dynamically when viewing HaD articles. Each “A” removal should increment a counter and (user-set optional) feed-back to HaD a message of every STEAM to STEM instance encountered along with the URL and the HaD Author of the offending OP article by said HaD Author. I think the number of Up-Votes for this “A” removal ANTIFA project will skyrocket! HaD MUST take notice – or Lose viewers. Let’s Occupy HaD Anti-“A” people! It’s up to YOU! Restore Common-Sense to this beloved site…

      1. Stamping out all opposition voices until all you can hear is the echo of your own. I think there are a few governments around that want the royalties you owe on that strategy.

  3. and hey, howabout STESFLGBTQBCMAM ? Science Technology Engineering Sociology Feminism Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transexual Queer Black Chicano Muslim Arts Math…. that’s where this is heading right? let’s just cut to the chase….

      1. You are just and evil carbonist “Big Fidget” shill who wants to cover up the fact that a lot of CO2 is released during the manufacture of spinners and with no minimum standards for spin efficiency far to many of them are causing humans to expend valuable energy keeping them going and this means that they eat more food than they should causing little children in poor countries to be malnourished.

  4. But more to the subject I dont think you could ever get enough speed out of this thing to do any useful work. The other cheap centrifuges like the one that work with string get the sample up much higher than this could ever do short of hitting it with an air nozzle.

  5. I was really hoping to see comments about the spinner as a centrifuge, like the practicality of it all and such.

    I can’t imagine one could achieve and sustain an RPM anywhere near what would be needed to make the device useful by hand alone. maybe some high-pressure air stream could be of some assistance, but if you’re in an area devoid of modern machinery, access to a proper air compressor may not be available. at that rate, access to other equipment that compliment the usage of a centrifuge in a chemistry/medicine/biology line of potentially life saving work, especially if/when urgent, may also be questionable.

    I don’t know what normal centrifugal RPMs and durations are, but I’m guessing a simple spinner such as this just won’t cut it. were it such that this article is only in jest, I discount not the idea and its worthiness of exploration.

    though really, your better bet would be to make an adapter that fits the vials to be spun onto the rim of a bicycle and just ride quickly from the location of the source of the samples all the way down to the lab for study.

    1. I’ll comment that the design isn’t in any way practical even if it could be spun up enough. A much smaller central bearing would give some extra space for the… thingies (can’t remember what they are called) and actually allow one to handle the device. However as the blurb above say this is a (lazy) copy paste job instead of someone trying to make something useful.

  6. As silly as this may seem, I see this as a stepping stone you could 3d print this and mount it to a motor and use it as a really centrifuge. That is kinda what hackaday is built upon. We take stuff and hack it to make it better . :)

  7. An issue with this and similar hacks is that you have little control over the actual rpm that you are achieving. This is somewhat mitigated in 3D printed dremel addons such as this one -> https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2199053 . It’d be easy to fix though, similar to how you tune the speed of your turntable; just add a band of circles, use a strobe app to variably light them and you’ll be able to spin to a specific rpm/rcf. Now that would be a great complementary hack!

  8. My morale is off the charts, [Benchoff]–I swear!

    Come on everybody, let’s sing a song! How about “Spinning Wheel”, or “You Spin Me Round”? Maybe something by The Spinners?

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