Event Rental


THE MIT MUSEUM'S 12th Anniversary
Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) Chain Reaction

Friday, November 27, 2009, 1 – 4 PM
Rockwell Cage Gymnasium
120 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA

Whether it's the reaction induced between one creative contraption and another equally crafty contrivance, or the joyful reactions sparked on the faces of the spectators, the MIT Museum's Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) Chain Reaction is a one-of-a-kind, got-to-be-seen-to-be-believed engineering feat.

Artist/inventor Arthur Ganson masterminds the choreography of this Rube Goldberg Machine, assisted by MIT student teams and participants who range from Girl Scout troops to artists and engineers. Spectators talk to the teams, engage in spontaneous contraption making (materials supplied on site) and fill the seats waiting for the magic moment when all the machines are linked up setting off a chain reaction with a surprise ending.

A great family event – "kids" of all ages enjoy watching, playing and making things at F.A.T. In years past, over 1,500 people attended this unique event - come on time to be assured of a place to watch. Your admission also gets you into the MIT Museum. Have fun!


$10 for adults
$5 for children (under 18), students and seniors
Free with MIT ID or children under 5
Spectator fee includes a free same-day admission to the MIT Museum, which will be open until 6:00pm

*Note - Accompanying adults (parents, relatives, friends) of team participants who are not listed as team members are expected to pay for admission to the event. Each team gets one free admission to the event for a chaperone.

Guidelines for Teams

  • Teams:
    $10 per team of 4 participants
    Additional team members, $5 each
    Teams must register by November 21: Register online or Mail in your registration(pdf)
  • Each team gets one free admission to the event for a chaperone. Other accompanying adults, students, seniors or children are expected to pay for admission.

(Please note that the guidelines listed below may still be revised for this year's F.A.T. Stay tuned here for details!)

  • Your link in the chain reaction should be no wider that 2', no taller than 4', and no longer than 6', should use no chemicals (baking soda and vinegar OK), no plug-in electricity (batteries and low-power DC OK), or use more than a cup of water.
  • Your link must be repeatable.
  • Test your chain reaction before bringing it to the event.
  • Make your event last AT LEAST 30 seconds and end in LESS THAN three minutes. Give your audience time to enjoy your event, be it funny, playful, clever, whimsical, or elegant.
  • New for 2009! There will be a section of the Chain Reaction that will be connected by tubes to pass a single golf ball from machine to machine rather than the standard string pull connections. You'll receive the ball at a height of 2" above table height. You would then integrate this ball into your link, using it an any way that you can imagine, and then pass this same ball to the next link in the chain at a height of 3" above table height. You'll need to make sure that as the ball leaves your link it has some momentum, on the order of 1 ft/s. It will need it to get the next link! We (the good folks at the museum) will be bringing along extra tubes, ramps and slides in order to bridge horizontal distances between links.
  • Of course, you can also build your machine to BEGIN and END by a string pull, as in years' past. Be sure that it takes no more force than the hanging weight of a golf ball moving 1" to start your link and ends by pulling a string AT LEAST 1" with enough force to lift a golf ball.

Your chain reaction could be as simple as books falling against one another or as complicated as a Rube Goldberg invention. Look at the Game MOUSETRAP, the Japanese TV show Pythagoras Switch, or IDEO's Incredible Global Rube Goldberg Chain Reaction Experience.


E-mail: museuminfo@mit.edu
or visit Arthur Ganson's F.A.T. Advice page.


Teams must register by November 21: Register online or Mail in your registration(pdf)

The Day of the Event:

Bring your chain reaction to Rockwell Cage Gymnasium (120 Vassar Street) at noon and we'll connect your device to others to make one grand chain reaction. MIT engineers and Arthur Ganson will be on hand to help. Participants will set up their links between 12–1 PM, then introduce their teams to the audience, demonstrate their links and tinker from 1–3 PM. We will set off our grand chain reaction at 3:30 PM.


Free parking is available in the West Garage on Vassar Street across from Rockwell Cage Gymnasium, on the streets, or in the Windsor Lot on Windsor Street behind the MIT Museum. LaVerde's Market and the MIT Coop, located in the adjacent Stratton Student Center on Massachusetts Avenue, will be open. All facilities are wheelchair accessible.

F.A.T. Chain Reaction is always looking for volunteers to help out during the event. Tasks include helping to run hands-on activities in the kids' area, setting up tables and chairs, selling tickets at the door, or coordinating the audience ball run machine. Please email dlui@mit.edu for more information.

Back at the MIT Museum:

Don't forget to visit MIT Museum; the visit is free with the special F.A.T. admission. Check out Arthur Ganson's popular Gestural Engineering exhibition. The Museum will be open until 6:00 p.m. that day.


2006 Chain Reaction
2007 Chain Reaction
2008 Chain Reaction

The Council for the Arts at MIT provides principal funding for F.A.T.