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Fun With Science Gyroscopes

Updated on February 24, 2018
Ben Reed profile image

Ben worked in the UK utility Industry for 30 years. During this time he held many varied posts within the Metering Side of the business.

Gyroscopes - Fun with Science

Gyroscopes are everywhere, but you might not know it at first glance! Kids, teenagers and adults use different equipment that uses gyroscope technology.. so what do these things do?

A gyroscope keeps things balanced and level, even if things are spinning or moving! For example, on television, the people with the cameras are now equipped with gyroscope technology - otherwise some of your favourite shows could be shaky and blurry.

The word gyroscope comes from two Greek terms - guros (a ring) scopium (scope) - so the word means "ringscope".. it sounds a bit silly, but think how it makes sense. In our solar system, the planet Saturn has lots of rings, but the planet rotates around the sun like Earth - and a gyroscope helps devices remain steady, even if things are moving.

Gyroscope in Motion

A gyroscope in action.
A gyroscope in action. | Source

Where are Gyroscopes used?

Teenagers and adults use devices with gyroscopes everyday - airplanes have nearly a dozen gyroscope-controlled elements and a video game controller utilizes one as well. For example, Nintendo's Wii MotionPlus attachment that has a gyroscope inside, so it can detect small and subtle movements by the user.

Gyroscope technology can do much more for individuals than just guide an airplane or help them win a video game. In the United States, an engineering team at Western Michigan University created a device to help blind people walk safely. One of the professors started working on the technology from 1991 and eventually put together a working prototype by 2005 - the gyroscope would help blind people walk in the right direction, while voice commands would alert them if the gyroscope says they are off course.

But remember that gyroscopes are not just built in a laboratory. Back in 2005, 17-year-old Adam Sidman used technology to create a science fair project that focused on his hobby of film production. According to Electronic Engineering Times, Sidman altered and re-programmed gyroscope chips that are used in digital cameras and camcorders. His improvements were sought after by lots of camera-making companies that were interested in using this new gyroscope technology.

Gyroscopes
Gyroscopes | Source

Gyroscope Video

As you can see here, a gyroscope stays balanced and level when it is in motion. This is how several modern pieces of technology rely on the science behind gyroscope forces.

Gyroscopic Forces - video

And you can see how late Professor Laithwaite, from London's Imperial College, shows how gyroscope forces can propel heavy objects with relative ease. Don't try this at home!

Gyroscopes, and the science behind them, can be used in a lot of modern equipment that we may not realise at first. If you have a Nintendo Wii, a tablet or a smartphone, then you have held a gyroscope-controlled device in your hands! And some people like to play with gyroscopes for fun.. you may even see some businessmen and women with a little one on their desks.

Gyroscope Poll

Have you ever played with a Gyroscope?

See results

Bicycle Wheel Gyroscope video

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    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      My granddaughter who is seven is fascinated by any sort of science. Now you've given me a great idea what to get her for her birthday!

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