The boys loved the robot area: these are little 'artbots' that take a small charge from dead batteries to power their LED lights. We then found the Exploratorium PIE area and the boys were hooked! The project was a 'chain reaction' of 15 'stations. In each station the participants had to take an input (in this case the white 'dominoes' and deliver an output (another 'domino'). Each station also had one component provided that had to be incorporated into the design. In our case the element was a hula dancer.
The three of us worked on the design and implementation together: Adam took the input and had a ball roll down a chute, push 2 foil-covered blocks together to make an electrical connection which started the hula dancer dancing on her plinth. Once the dancer danced off the plinth her foil-covered bottom made an electrical connection with the foil covering the table and started Finlay's portion of the design: A small motor turned a clothes peg on a stick, which pushed a cork through a hole in the wooden block, and activated the bamboo skewer 'poker' which knocked over out output domino.
It took us over an hour, and we had to return in the afternoon to see the entire chain set off. It was a great project, and really engaged the boy's imaginations. There was a lot else to see too (and we didnt even make it into the spinning/weaving/knitting craft tent!). There were several fire sculptures; this one made by the Lotus Girls.
Attendees could operate this sculpture so all three of us operated it for a while, spinning the 2 balls, and making 'puffs' of flame.
Adam was also particularly taken by the number of people just walking around in costume/with robots/other exhibits. They liked this guy who they thought was like a faun!
We stayed all afternoon and came home exhausted but with a memo on the calendar to go for 2 days in 2010.