School Programs

Eli Whitney Museum

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Balancing Circus

The Circus explores the art and science of balance, forces, center or gravity and performance. Conceived with a nod to artist /engineer Sandy Calder, each circus tests classic experiments at work. Expands STC curriculum.

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Simple Machines

Whitney demonstrated the power of machines to guide and ease work. The screws, threads, levers and pulleys of this machine organize effort into power you can feel. Students assemble interchangeable parts and invent a personality for their machine.

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Pinball Machine

A popular project that teaches game design (beginnings, middles and ends), logic (rewards for difficulty), marble movement (caroms, momentum) and creative design (good games must still attract players.) A rare exploration of the work of play.

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Rubber Band Car

Students construct cars powered by rubber bands and measure their performance after 20 minutes of practice. Lively insights into the mechanics, measurement and math of motion. Great for a followup program on creative elaboration. New design now employs wheels of diameter 1/π.

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Hill Quest

Wheels, axles, chassis parts, connectors and rubber bands are the basic components of each kit that allows students to construct cars that sprint or creep to the top of a wooden ramp…jousting with another student’s car. Challenge: Beat your opponent to the top of the three foot ramp and hold your ground. The project tests all the dynamics of Force and Motion and tests planning and problem solving.

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Electromagnet

Understand electricity through the same experiments that early scientists used. Wind a coil of wire. Suspend a bar magnet in it. Charge the coil with a battery to spin the magnet. Test polarity. Discover the origins of motors and Morse Code.

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Robot Drum

Construct a music machine. Hear the logic of Leonardo's mind at work as he invents the first modern robot, an automatic drummer whose rhythms can be reprogrammed flexibly and whose tempos adjust automatically. Invent your own cadences.

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Life Stages - Plants or Animals

Each living thing goes through stages of development. Construct a small theater with scenes that change to present the growth cycle of plants or animals. We offer materials to study typically pumpkins or butterflies. With a design flexible enough for teachers and students to go back to their classes and present another life cycle on the reverse side of each stage block.

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Rocks of Connecticut

Each child will build a display box to sort and test 6 (plus a mystery rock) rocks and minerals brought to the Museum from across Connecticut. Each sample will have different properties. Every student will learn to use and will take home a lighted field microscope (10x - 60x).

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Sustainable House

Construct a birdhouse of sustainably harvested pine and re-used plywood. Learn the measurements of adapting house to species. Learn to site house for temperature and security. Learn annual recycling. Learn sensible building choices for birds (and people) Or a birdfeeder.

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Magnetic Pendulum

All creatures live in a web of resources that support or suppress their growth. Create a dynamic model of an insect’s or bird’s world. Suspend a magnetized creature on a pendulum. Add food and shelter (with magnets) that attract the creature and predators and hazards that repel it. The creature navigates a complex and fascinating path.

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Sustainable Energy

Windmills have captured renewable energy for up to 2000 years. In new forms, wind machines will harness even more power in the future. Construct a classic whirligig to control, measure and apply wind power. With adjustable rotors.

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Canal Boat

Canal boats tell the story of the first bold man-made trade network, of community cooperation, of the ingenious use of water power. Construct a boat, its mules, people and canal bed in 1/4th" scale. Operate a model lock. With the rich illustrations of Peter Spier's Erie Canal ©1970

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Cultures

To understand a people, study them where they live. Construct simplified model houses to consider the climates, resources, materials and traditions that define culture. Focus on a region. Focus on a historic area. Focus on a common pursuit like baking bread. Create façades of local architecture.

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Micro Architecture

Our micro-blocks and glue quickly and flexibly construct castles, temples, pyramids, Egyptian or Roman villas or fairy tale keeps. These models capture the exterior form and style of buildings and allow some interior detail. Castles and temples are perhaps the most expressive projects. We can adapt to your needs.

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Connecticut Clipper or New England Whaling

In the first half of the 19th century, Connecticut joined the race to California and China in sleek, bold Clipper Ships. Construct a model clipper with a hold to export and import cargo that built Connecticut's industry and commerce. Using the Charles W. Morgan, (a 19th c. whaling ship now berthed at Mystic Seaport) as a model, understand the industry that brought whalebone to the Strouse Adler Company Corset Factory in New Haven to make undergarments for upstanding Connecticut ladies.

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Woodland Village

Each student constructs half inch scale figures and a lodge… representing Quinnipiac or other woodland traditions…trees, tools, and totems that can be combined in a diorama of native American life. Adapt contemporary materials with the resourcefulness once applied to barks, skins and shells.

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Balance / Folk Toys

Immigrants brought to America traditions of crafting simple playthings out of common materials. These toys develop dexterity and inventiveness. Two toys from the catalog of classics. Understand Force and Motion or connect to Colonial curriculum or the geography of play. Yesterday's toys for today's kids – and they still evoke wonder. Nothing and everything is new.

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Dexterity Games

More than a century ago Mark Twain marveled that, surrounded by a world of inventions, children devoted their time to games: handheld marble games, to be specific. Those games still appeal. Design a game with it’s beginning middles and end. Hammer in pegs. Stretch a web of rubber bands. Play. One marble is not a challenge. Three marbles become a game.

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