Most tinkering workshops end with an epic, full scale, collaborative Chain Reaction, and this one was no different. We like to end on this because it brings the whole group together, and also allows participants to put to use all the skills they gained over the course of three days, combining circuits, switches, kinetic elements, and a strong aesthetic sensibility. Often it is easy to focus on the final set-off of the chain reaction, because it is such a raucous, joy-filled event, but all the really interesting work happens in the 3-4 hours before, when the energy is much more mellow, people are focused on problem-solving, and rapidly try ideas and solutions. So I strongly encourage you to check out the video above, which is the "making of…" the final chain reaction. Then take a look at the set-off video below, and keep going for some more images.
We typically seed each table with one or two objects from our extensive collection, with the mandate that the people working at that table have to use it in their contraption. Often this ends up shaping the entire problem space that is explored. In Mia and Angelica's case, the challenge of using a light-weight inflatable cactus dominated much of their investigation.
The idea definitely spread to other tables, and Phillip, Trevor, and Emilyn took it to an extreme level, spending the entirety of their time working on a single contraption: a suspended football field that kicks a ball from one end to the other. In the end, it totally worked!
Likewise, Ashley and Molly were enraptured by the idea of making a duck cross a road, and structured their entire contraption around the theme of ducks, finding every possible type of plastic duck we have in our collection (which is a surprisingly large number…)
Sometimes, small but brilliant details get lost in the chaos of the final run. Tatian and Alex had a "caricaturist" robot activated during their contraption, who is drawing a caricature of creepy pizza face, the star of many a previous Chain Reaction!