Toys and Science


This project will be on Internet:


The present work is a simplified version of the itinerant exposition Toys and Science. This exposition was ideated a few years ago (the first edition dates back to 1992, and was held in Trento) by Professor Vittorio Zanetti, for the Physics Department of the UniversitÓ degli Studi di Trento. Since then, its success has been constantly growing, with so many demands from all over Italy that the current number of editions is near fifty.

The exposition is composed of amusing objects, mostly toys (property of the Physics Department), which are lent together with explaining files. More than seventy different expositive units may be observed, each showing paradoxical and interesting aspects of physics. The units are arranged following the standard taxonomy for this science: mechanics, optics, astronomy, electro-magnetism, thermodynamics, chemistry, light, sound and so on.

Why toys

The main objective of the exposition is to induce curiosity and interest for science. Besides, from a didactic point of view, it is extremely important to refer not only to laboratory items, but also to objects taken from the world around us. In this way it may be explained how the laws and principles of physics learned at school are in effect valid also in every-day life.

From a psychological point of view, toys appear to be particularly effective in pointing out the basic concepts of physics, exactly because they have not been ideated for that purpose. On the contrary, laboratory items, explicitly born to demonstrate the physics principles, are less convincing because of their congenital characteristic of "special" objects.

A further advantage of this exposition is its interactive component . Most of the exposed toys may be touched and tested by the visitors, who are thus more involved. To the operative aspect, it is then associated the didactic one: a person touching and activating any device is nearer to science than one only observing.

For information and loans, contact Professor Vittorio Zanetti:
e-mail:; tel +39 461 881537; fax +39 461 881696