Tinkering School

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Thanksgiving Break Camp, Day 2

Thanksgiving 2013Josh Rothhaas

Chain Reaction machines are on our mind. Today we set out to extend, expand and blow out our chain reaction machine and make it even more complicated and exciting. It was bigger, longer and had more moving parts.

As always we start the day with safety training. Learning our two most empowering tools, the chop-saw and the power drill, and our most important procedure, the ready call. Over the years we've finely honed it to this. The person doing the dangerous thing (whether that is using the chop saw, or throwing knives) says "ready?" and the only two answers are a visual but silent thumbs up for yes, and a loud and verbal "no!". It both makes sure we hear the "nos" and those who are ready are calm and in control.

Then the plans went wild. Bouncing balls. Zip-lines 25 feet in the air. Elevators. Teater totters. Dominos on Hinges. Marble Runs. Our dreams were big.

Precarious Potential Energy is the inverse of how much energy it takes to knock something over. Rube Goldberg machines are all about this. The easier it is to knock something over, push something, get something rolling, the more likely thing are to work. Our system could have used a little more precarious potential energy, as much of it needed pushes and pulls from the builders themselves. But in the end, it was spectacular.

Her is a video of the final run. Watch it in higher definition on our flickr page.

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