As we've done in the past, we chose a theme for inspiration; in this case, "love" seemed the clear choice. Then we collected objects, mechanisms, toys, knick-knacks, and doo-dads that somehow could relate to the theme, and asked participants to build a contraption that metaphorically expressed some aspect of love. We arranged tables to make the shape of a giant heart, and within their section, visitors could build whatever they wanted, as long as it triggered the next "love machine" in the sequence.
We spent the previous couple of weeks preparing for the event, planning, collecting materials, and most importantly working on a stupendous grand finale: the mascots for the evening were a rat and his duckie lover, so we made giant cardboard versions of them, and had them come together powered by a turntable playing Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing!
We set some elements on the tables before we invited visitors in, and gave them a challenge that was meant to serve as inspiration: to somehow incorporate that element into their contraption. This table had some plastic army men to represent "love as a battlefield."
Facilitation is crucial in an activity like this, and it truly is an art, since we often do not know which problems we'll be presented with: they depend almost entirely on the imagination and goals of the participants. So, very often, we end up becoming co-thinkers and collaborators, rather than anything approaching a traditional "teacher" role.
The evening was a blast, and the final chain reaction run one of our most successful ever! We'll be posting a video of the event — including the spectacular finale — next week, as well as behind the scenes "making-of" specials.
Meanwhile, from all of us in the Tinkering Studio, enjoy the full slideshow of the event!