Fidgit Spinners, 3D Printing and Science

Folks often ask me about the usefulness of 3D printing in terms of learning. One of the major projects that occurs on campus is students producing a 3D model of themselves altered in someway thanks to ReMake & Meshmixer. In terms of other easy projects – in order to recruit students for our open Student Technologist positions during our summer Orientations – I 3D printed several popular fidgit spinners. The model I went with was the Hand Spinner Warped. As an aside the I had to scale the body to 101% to get the 608 bearings to squeeze in – using ABS and printing with a standard ABS print profile found here.
I’m using a Taz5 and printing through Cura’s latest update. To scale up or down: load the model, click on the model and click on the Scale icon that pops up at the bottom. Change your scale for any axis from 1.0 to 1.01. Enough of the 3D printing jargon – let’s find out about how these fun and seemingly everywhere toys can be a tool for the classroom.

As a work in progress, I had not yet found a hammer I posted the Fidgit Spinner to Instagram.

Gadget of the day #3dprinted #fidgitspinner via #thingiverse by Nath5 printed at 1.01 for a Taz 5 in ABS.

A post shared by Erika Rydberg (@rika1985) on

Where it of course has about as much of a following as the current availability of Fidgit Spinners in my local stores (why yes there is a sign on Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord that they indeed have fidgit spinners in addition to hundreds of delightful reads!)

But what value can these toys teach in addition to providing a distraction during work, class etc? How about Physics?! Wired just released a nice piece on measuring the exploring the physics of rotational motion using a Fidgit Spinner.

Just a nice quote from this piece by Rhett Allain (and because as much as I like communicating about science, I’m not much of scientist…)
“Here is the key part—something I try to get my introductory physics students to understand. I won’t determine just one period and use it to find I for the spinner. Instead, I will measure the period with the spinner at some distance (L). Then I will change the distance and find the new period. With this data, I can plot T multiplied by L vs. L2 (actually I will plot all of that stuff on the left side of the equation). Yes, I know that looks weird, but it should be a straight line with and the y-intercept will be the moment of inertia of the spinner. Boom.”

Just another piece of information to show how both popular toys (I’m talking to you Furby), 3D printers, and science can create an interactive and fun classroom or research environment.