November 11, 2010

K'Nex Tower and Squashing the Achievements of Small Children

Our school decided to give us a day off for Veteran's Day. Which was nice. My friends and I decided to go to the science museum for the afternoon since we get free admission. We were expecting to just browse the kiddie exhibits and say "Hey! We know that!" all day and critique what they were trying to teach us, but instead we encountered the traveling K'Nex exhibit.

Our engineering senses tingling, we entered the exhibit and found out that there was a tower building contest going in.

What better way to flex our design muscles than to build a tower that reached the ceiling and squashed the records set by the small children at the museum?

We also saw that some folks from our school had set some decent records and left taunting messages, so we had to beat those, too. After all, they had done engineering a shame by not building until the constraints of the ceiling got in the way.

Our lofty goals in mind, we started construction. We started out with a slowly expanding modular pattern. After this reached about 10 feet long, we discovered it was getting a little too wobbly to continue. Undeterred, we added more and more reinforced layers.

Soon, another constraint was creeping up on our design goal - limited resources. The exhibit was running out of red rods! Oh noes! But it didn't matter. Our goal was reachable by adding a ridiculous spire at the top.

After two hours of construction, we were ready to stand up our tower. We separated it into three pieces, and as the token tall person, I got to put them together while standing on a chair.

Fellow museum goers applauded our efforts and kindly took our pictures, but alas, there was no prize.

For completeness sake, we measured the tower and counted the pieces. It came in at a record breaking 199.25". I insisted we measure it in people, and found it was three friends tall.

Based on how fast the four of us worked, I estimated there were 800 pieces in the tower. The actual answer? 748!

We win. Take that small children.