February Vacation 2011

Eli Whitney Museum

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  • The Museum offers a day long (9am – 3pm) program to enrich the hours of the school holidays.
  • Before and after care (7:30 am – 5:30 pm) is available at $7 per hour.
  • Per day: $59 ($55 for members)

Click on each program for complete information and link to registration.

The Art of the Arm


Leonard's eye took the world apart... down to its innermost detail: muscle and bone. His imagination put it back together in entirely new ways. Construct a working model of an arm... a design inspired by Neil Downie.

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Leonardo's Garage


Leonardo was impatient with philosophers who gathered knowledge only from books. He shaped his ideas by experiment. Consider his wind-up car. It is a laboratory of big ideas. Construct cars that are designed for experiment: measure for distance (stored energy); knock over towers (momentum); engage in duels (game theory); and design your own challenges.

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Helicopters & Flying Saucers


Flight captured Leonardo's imagination. He drew flying machines like birds. He also sketched spinning wings. He drew rocket launchers and catapults. Make a flying top inspired by Leonardo's drawings. Make a Rotopult for safely launching wafers of corks Frisbee-style... Leonardo's vision channeled through the ingenuity of Neil Downie.

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Leonardo's Ropemaker


Leonardo noticed knots. You can see artful knots in the detail of Mona Lisa's dress. Leonardo drew spinning machines and this machine for making rope. Make a three-ply rope spinner. Twist and twist and twist fibers and threads into rope... an ancient art. Make projects for yourself (woven bracelets, etc) and gifts for others with your new tool. Learn how to dye your rope with safe dyes (the kind some people drink!)

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Drawing from Leonardo: the Eye Pad


Of course drawing is a tool for thinking. Drawing is many tools. Construct your own Eye-Pad, a portable, interactive sketchbook. Then learn approaches Leonardo proposed, to teach you tricks and skills for your eyes and hands. Games, techniques, exercises. You could call them "apps." Your artful fingers will amaze you. With guest artist Alexis Brown.

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Leonardo's House of Light & Mirrors


Artists use charcoal, brushes and pigment. They also use lenses, mirrors, and screens. Leonardo was a scientist of light. Construct your own light laboratory to reproduce his experiments. Capture images and project them. Reflect and refract light. Multiply and subtract with mirrors. Bend, stretch, and compress images. Make a Jell-O lens.

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Leonardo's Bridges


For ages 6-9.
Bridges fascinated Leonardo. He draws the medieval stone arches that crossed the Arno. He inserts one in the landscape of the Mona Lisa He invents clever portable bridges for armies. Construct a puzzle to learn the block work of a Roman Arch in Florence, Italy, and the shops that grew up along it. Build a model of the futuristic arch Leonardo proposed to cross the Golden Horn for the Sultan of Istanbul.

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Leonardo's Drum Set


For ages 9-12.
In 1490, Leonardo was nearly as well known for his music as his art. He played the lute. He composed music. He invented new instruments. He proposed automatic drums that are forerunners of the music box and the modern robot. Build a 'programmable' drummer. Add a variable pitch drum that Leonardo sketched and Neil Downie* channeled. Add cymbals. And your own compositions.

*Ink Sandwiches, Electric Worms ©2003 pp.57

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The Rollbot


For ages 7 – 9.
Leonardo likes to play. Even as an old man, he constructed a magnificent lion for his patron, the King of France. The lion was a play on Leonardo's name. Then as the King admired it, the lion moved. It was the first wind-up toy. Then the Lion opened to reveal lillies: the royal flower. The first Transformer. Construct a simple Rollbot with many different ways to move. Make yours a lion, or a tiger, or a bear. Oh my, so many choices.

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Wave Machines


For ages 9 – 12
Leonardo saw the world in four dimensions. His drawings captured time. He recorded the movement of waves in water. He recorded the rhythmic swing of the pendulum that, by Galileo's time, would govern the mechanical clock. Again guided by Neil Downie's designs: construct a standing wave generator with motors and string, and construct the world's simplest working mechanical clock.

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