sketchpad

Mini Chain Reaction Prototypes

14
Feb/12

For the Open MAKE: Time event, we've been doing some experiments with building chain reactions inspired by our favorite Japanese show - PythagoraSwitch. While our large-scale chain reactions allow for collaborative building and provide an opportunity for a dramatic conclusion, we wondered if smaller, individual contraptions might work as a more "everyday" activity in the Tinkering Studio. Although we've noticed that the pressure inherent in being a small part of a large series of events sometimes leads to powerful breakthroughs in thinking, self-contained reactions may offer ways for people to work at their own pace, try lots of different things, and really personalize their creations. For the open make event we are going to try to make chain reactions that start with kitchen timers going off and end with something hitting the snooze buttons on an alarm clock.

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While the PythagoraSwitch chain reactions are astounding in their precision and complexity (and use of chipmunks), we've been studying the DVDs (which are unfortunately not available commercially in the US) to accumulate a vocabulary of the types of elements that they use again and again. Some of the pieces we're going to try and figure out include catapults, teeter-totters, levers, and spring loaded launchers. In the experiments we've tried, we've found consistency to be elusive but it's been fun to attempt to make the elements work together with some regularity. And we can console ourselves with the knowledge that even the indomitable Pythagoraswitch reactions probably took hundreds of takes before they got the perfect one.

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Check out the video of our initial prototypes and come to Open MAKE: Time for this and other time themed activities.

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