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Level 2

Typical time required:
30 minutes

Have you ever thought “Great idea. I should have thought of that!”  when you see a gadget that would make life that little bit easier?

Well now’s your chance to see lots of them.  QUIRKY is our new display of anything odd that looks as if it might just come in handy or even solve a problem.  We take a look at strange ideas from one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying machines to how to hold pages of a book open with one hand.

From weird musical instruments to foam lighter than a feather that can carry a brick, these fascinating inventions will make you think. 

The Stirling Engine

This engine works on the energy from the heat of your hand!   When you place your hand under this machine your palm warms the air inside.  The expanding air drives a piston and fly wheel.  The air moves to another chamber, cools and is recycled.   Nothing else is needed.




It’s so light you can hardly feel its weight, but a small block of it can support many kilos.  Aerogel is made from a gel containing a network of strong thin fibres.  When the water is removed, and replaced by air, a strong framework of fibres is left behind. Containing so much air, Aerogel is also an excellent insulator.  So good, in fact, that is used to protect space vehicles from the heat of re-entering the earth’s atmosphere!

Let's play Bucky Balls

These immensely strong magnets are made from Neodymium, a rare earth element and are many times stronger than ordinary magnets.  It is used in applications like cleaning industrial waste from iron containing contamination.  Come to QUIRKY and you can make loads of fascinating shapes, from chains to blocks that indicate crystal structures.  

And if you’ve had a great idea yourself, why not tell us about it?  There are so many weird ideas here, you’ve just got to see for yourself.