Massachusetts Institute of Technology / MIT Museum
Building N51 265 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139
Open Daily 10am – 5pm / Closed Major Holidays
NOTE: Special schedule on Thursday, May 23. See our Hours & Admission page for details.
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
*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.
New for 2010:
To celebrate the 13th annual F.A.T. we (the good folks at the museum) encourage you (the fantastically creative builders of F.A.T. chain reaction links) to design and build your machines in celebration of the number 13. How? Well, 13 is an amazingly inspiring number. Thirteen is a prime number, a Fibonacci number, a Center Squared Number, the hypotenuse of the (5,12,13) Pythagorean triple, and Wilt Chamberlin’s number (now retired by at least three professional basketball teams). There are 13 Archimedean solids, 13 loaves in a ‘baker’s dozen,’ 13 full moons in a year, and 13 cards in a suit (think hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds). There were 13 original US colonies (including F.A.T.’s home state of Massachusetts), which led to the 13 horizontal stripes on the American flag. Not to mention that 13 is considered by some to be magical, mystical and either lucky or unlucky (depending on whom you ask). So, please, consider the number 13 as you design and build your machine for the 13th annual F.A.T… which, by the way, falls on Friday the 26th (and 26 = 13 x 2).
The 13-second challenge:
The F.A.T. guidelines state that your machine must last AT LEAST 30 seconds and end in LESS THAN three minutes. In the spirit of the number 13, we offer an additional challenge… try to make your individual event last for either 1 minute and 13 seconds (01:13:00:00) OR 2 minutes and 13 seconds (02:13:00:00) during the giant chain reaction beginning at 3:30 PM. The team that comes closest to 01:13:00 without going over AND the team that comes closest to 02:13:00 without going over will each win a prize. Your time will begin when your machine starts (either by receiving the golf ball or having its string pulled) and will stop when it ends (either by releasing the golf ball or pulling the next string), and will include any stops and restarts along the way. So, you have one – and only one – chance to make the time. Hopefully, the number 13 will be lucky for you.
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.
Bring your chain reaction to Rockwell Cage Gymnasium (120 Vassar Street) at 11:30 AM 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 11:30 AM — 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, and more. Please email email@example.com for information.
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. the day of F.A.T.
The Council for the Arts at MIT provides principal funding for F.A.T.