If you haven’t heard of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests, and even if you have, the Chicago Cultural Center has a fabulous exhibit for anyone interested in mechanical creatures. You get to see what an eccentric artist can do when combining engineering and art. Jansen’s wind powered beach creatures have evolved over the last 25 years, getting more sophisticated by storing wind energy, sensing when walking into the water, and even self-correcting to prevent them getting stuck. Some even anchor themselves if they detect a storm, all without any electronics just plastic pipe, cloth, and recycled bottles.
Check the schedule if you go, you can watch a 42’ long Animaris Suspendisse walk or they might actually let you move an Animaris Ordis by yourself! The exhibit also included the evolution of the creatures and a small case of what other inspired people in the making community have done with his designs. Hamster powered Strandbeest anyone? How about 3D printed Strandbeests? The Segway like device inspired by a Strandbeest was pretty impressive too! Anyone interested in building a Strandbeest here?
The Chicago Cultural Center is a beautiful building itself and just across the street from Millennium Park – you can see Cloud Gate from many of the windows on the east side of the building. Make sure you check out the other exhibits in the building and look at the incredible dome on the 2nd floor of the Center.
I’ll cover the workshops on making your own greeting card using a electronic (vinyl) cutter and making a custom acrylic keychain with laser cutter in a future post…
Yesterday, in conjunction with The Castle, we did a class workshop on catapults with the 7th grade science students at Greencastle Middle School. They were challenging sessions with both physics and mathematics involved, but the kids in the 7th grade science classes on Friday worked through the calculations to solve whether a 150 pound wild boar could be hurled across a 100 yard moat using a catapult. Their current curriculum was in the Newton’s laws of motion section, which they had to use to help answer the question.
With only a 43 minute class period to work with, we had to reduce the scenario to a fairly short calculation. The groups were given the wild boar launch velocity (100 ft/sec at a 45 degree angle) and had to calculate the flight time so the total distance traveled could be determined. For those that finished the problem quickly they could try to figure how the distance would change if a cow was instead launched, but that was a bonus item that most didn’t get to. We finished up by test launching a few stuffed animals in the classroom to see a simple catapult in action.
Special thanks to Mr. Wickerman for letting us into his classroom, to Kara Jedele from The Castle for arranging the workshop, and both Kara and Emily Knuth for helping in the classroom.