What’s the best way to reopen a science museum after the COVID-19 shutdown? With a giant Rube Goldberg machine of course!
A Rube Goldberg machine, named after American cartoonist Rube Goldberg, is intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overly complicated way.
Over a five day period, staff and volunteers at Exploration Place in Wichita, Kan., built one of the largest such machines ever seen. Measuring nearly half a mile long, the whimsical machine traveled through 40,000 square feet of the museum’s hands-on exhibits.
“After being closed for nearly four months, we wanted to celebrate our reopening to the public in a fun and creative way,” said Adam Smith, President of Exploration Place. “A giant Rube Goldberg machine felt like the perfect answer. It’s entertaining and educational, and could lead people on a guided tour around our museum’s wonderful exhibit galleries,” Smith said.
The project connected 138 tricks and science experiments in a huge daisy chain that was themed to the museum’s exhibits. For example, as the machine passed through the aviation exhibit it involved spinning propellers, a zip line airplane, and rolling pieces of luggage. The medieval castle exhibit included a trebuchet catapult.
A full video of the entire machine is available here:
The Rube Goldberg machine at Exploration Place was made possible by a grant from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Exploration Place reopens to the general public on July 4. More about reopening, including FAQs, is located here: https://www.exploration.org/reopening.
Exploration Place offers visitors of all ages interactive environments, hands-on experiences, Kansas’ largest domed theater – the Digital Dome Theater and Planetarium – imaginative spaces, and outdoor recreation, all located on a 20-acre site along the scenic Arkansas River in downtown Wichita, Kan.