Marble Machines is a really new (and really fun!) experiment on the floor of the museum in the Studio right now. Marble Machines is different from many other exhibits at the museum in that it is mostly constructed from the visitors imaginations and realized on the walls of the museum with the materials we provide. What we put out there for visitors has an impact on what they can create. The Studio Group has carefully selected sources of inspiration, enthusiasm and interest in the space- there is a video of Pythagora Switches looping on a monitor for visitors to watch, there are Explainers excitedly building in the space (sometimes), and there are common materials (like wooden molding and PVC pipe) used in new ways. Now that we are comfortable with these basics in the space, we have started to experiment with more variables. One that I have become particularly interested in while facilitating this activity in the mornings is the amount of materials available. Since the activity can be done in so many different ways, there are no magic numbers (like, “we need 20 wooden tracks, 12 metal pipes and 3 marbles!”) So how do we figure out how many materials we do need?
So far, the clues I have found most important and useful in trying to figure this out are…
- The amount of materials on the walls and
- The amount of materials in the cart
Today when I walked into the space this is what I saw on the bottom of the cart where we have been keeping the long wooden ramps:
To borrow a word from a previous email on this topic, the first word that popped into my mind was “anemic”. I don’t mean any offense to whomever in the studio took some of the materials out of the space. There could be good reasons for removing many of the stuff, but to me, it didn’t look as much fun! So I went and got more and added them to this space to make it look less empty and more full…in hopes that this full container of ramps would somehow encourage fullness of ideas… The “After” photo is below. To me, it seems more inviting. But what do the rest of you think? Maybe to others it just seems like a bigger mess to keep organized…
The top of the compartmentalized cart was also more sparsely filled when I found it today (the photos I took of this didn’t turn out, sadly). One thing I noticed that was almost M.I.A. (there were only a handfull left out there) was the brightly colored plastic tubes that fit together. I actually am personally not a fan of these tubes and Ryan and I were just discussing yesterday if we could just take them all away. To me, these tubes felt sort of “fake” and “un-PIE-like” since they are not really a found material or easily bought from the Home Depot like pegboard or molding. But, I do see a ton of little kids immediately attracted to them who just sit there and put the tubes together and take them apart even without marbles and walls involved, so maybe that is important too
Anyone else have thoughts on how many materials we need?