Tinkering School

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Pop-Up Planetarium

Aesthetic Challenge, Interactive, Tinkering ChallengeSean Murray

It took the American Museum of Natural History about half a year and $11,000,000 (in today's dollars, or $800,000 in 1935) to build Hayden Planetarium. 

For the first One Day Workshop of the year, we thought we'd build a Pop-Up Planetarium--that is, a dark room with simulated stars that is designed and built in just one day.

As always, we started with tool training. Incredibly, and for the first time in Tinkering School history, we did not use the chop saw once for the project (it was made entirely out of 96" studs, and we just grabbed scraps for the braces). But, it's always fun to learn.

Then we divvied up labor into panel-painting...


and framing.

The crew did a great job moving themselves among tasks to meet the need of the bigger project.

When we were finally done, we cleaned up, and went together into the vacuum of space.

It was a pretty cool, convincing effect--very dark, with variations in the LEDs' strengths mimicking the various brightness of galaxies seen in deep space photos. The effect was greatly enhanced by the score coming from the shop boom box: "Space Oddity", themes from Star Trek and Star Wars, and Carl Sagan's word on "the pale blue dot".

As always, there are loads more photos on our flickr.

With huge love and thanks to Ann Druyan, Neil Tyson and Carl Sagan. Your work is a constant inspiration.

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