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Eli Whitney Museum

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Measure Mobile

Sand, assemble and decorate the wheels, axles, chassis and driver of a wooden downhill racer. Then experiment. Measure the distance it travels from the end of its track. Change the pitch of the track and measure again. Change the weight of the car and measure again. An intro to numbers as the voice of science.

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Machine Design: The Vocabulary of Motion

A basic vocabulary of movements controls every mechanical device. Leonardo daVinci identified and drew the most important of these. Learn one of three classic arrangements to control the direction, speed and shape of movement. Invent an artful application for your device. Then, connect yours to someone else's machine and let them work together with a set or series of pulleys to combine movement and meaning.

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The Whitney Relay

The Whitney Relay is a set of inter­connect­able parts that lets students master the art and science of energy transfer in the tradition of the Rube Goldberg Machine or its contemporary Japanese masterpiece: the Pythagoras Switch. Each student receives 5 ramps, 8 marbles, 6 blocks, and assorted parts to construct a chain reaction that could include your whole class. Thoughtful lessons in mechanics, invention and teamwork.

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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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Catapult

Explore the ancient and challenging mechanics of catapults. Rubber bands power this model. Safe for people and places when used with the ping pong ball provided. Make Happy Birds and fling them with accuracy.

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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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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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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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Vibrocraft

Build a vibrating motor block that will drive the Vibrocraft scampering around the room. Experiment with different kinds of 'feet' to discover just which work best for the desired results. An introduction to the art of experiment. Begin to understand friction and get some control.

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Flying Pulleys

Sometimes you have to strip away all the non-essential parts to see an idea at work. Neil Downie proposes a clever study of the exchange of speed for force. A second array of pulleys float between input pulleys and the output pulley. An elegant display of force in motion.

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Dynabrolly: Waves

Looking at wave forms at different speeds and the effect of weight, air friction and gravity. As the speed changes, see the different number of waves traveling around the edge of the cloth.

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Simple Machine Catapult

When you build a catapult with three simple machines as part of the design (lever, pulley, screw), you add multiple levels of complexity to an already elegantly conceived machine. Adjust trajectory, control trigger mechanism and launch ping pong balls with more thoughtful plans than just point and release.

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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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