We've been keeping experimenting with the Automata Workbench exhibit in the Tinkering Studio. These are previous blog posts Ryan wrote:
Automata Workbench Prototyping (8/21/2014)
Making an Automata Workbench Pt. 2 (9/25/2014)
Since we would like the automata workbench to be more like a standalone exhibit (means the exhibit works when unfacilitated), figuring out how to communicate visitors what they can do at this exhibit has been one of the big challenges. While we would like visitors to fully experiment with motions and mechanisms by testing out different cams/cam followers, we are kind of hesitant to be super instructional (such as providing step-by-step instructions) on the signage and graphics. So we are trying to come up with non-singage clues that somehow communicate visitors what the all these loose parts and materials on the table are meant for.
So we've made three-dimensional figures so that they would communicate more clearly that these figures are meant to be on the top. We also talked about what kind of figures we should put there: a waving hand and a boat are good candidates since they could easily associate with certain kind of motion.
We also wanted to see what happens if we put bright colors on the figures so they would look more like a toy and stand out clearly from other woodsy looking loose parts. Michael, our volunteer, worked on this right away and he made a few sketches.
We've also made a ballerina with a bendable leg. We thought ballerina would be also a good candidate for the figure, as it certainly associates with spinning motion.
While I'm writing this blog, I'm again going back to this photo on the left, as this photo makes me think that it might be better if the horizontal axle and vertical axle had different diameters so that each axle could not be used in the other way... (right now, both axles are 1/4" diameter although one is a square rod and the other is cylinder rod. hard to notice the difference unless you pay close attention to them.) Like in the rough sketch, if the horizontal axle was a lot thicker, would it not be used for vertical, and also make it easier to put though the cams hole and set in the box??? Just an idea.
The other thing we should definitely work on is to make those figures robust enough so they will hold up long time on the floor...
Sad to see they got broken within a few days... Our experiment is still on going and we have more ideas that we would like to try.