Event Rental


THE MIT MUSEUM'S 14th Annual
Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) Chain Reaction

Friday, November 25, 2011, 1 – 4 PM
Rockwell Cage Gymnasium
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, more than 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!

Spectator Admission:

$15 for adults or $12.50 in advance (non-refundable, available until 11/23 at 12:00 p.m.)
$5 for youth ages 5-17, students (with ID), seniors, and MIT ID-holders
Children younger than 5 admitted free with parent, guardian or chaperone
Spectator fee includes parking and 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 student team gets one free admission to the event for a chaperone.

Guidelines for Teams

Team Admission (up to 4 team members):
  • Pre-registered: $12 in advance or $15 at the door
    Additional team members $5 each (in advance or on-site)
  • Each student team gets one free admission to the event for a chaperone. Other accompanying adults, students, seniors or children are expected to pay for admission (see spectator admission fees above).
  • Register in advance to confirm your place in the Chain Reaction and save on the registration fee
  • 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 (small amounts of baking soda and vinegar OK), no plug-in electricity (batteries and low-power DC OK), and use no more than a cup of water.
  • Your link must be repeatable.
  • Test your chain reaction before bringing it to the event.
  • Make your reaction 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.
  • There will be a section of the Chain Reaction connected by tubes to pass a single golf ball from machine to machine. You'll receive the ball at a height of 2" above table height. You will then integrate this ball into your link, using it in any way that you can imagine, and then release this same ball to the next link in the chain at a height of 6" (this is not a typo, we mean 6", NOT 2") above table height. We (the good folks at the Museum) will be bringing along extra tubes, ramps and slides in order to transfer the ball from the 6” release point on your machine to the 2” receiving point on the next machine.
  • You may also connect your machine using single string pulls. These reactions must begin AND end with a string pull. 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" in length 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. See also the music video This Too Shall Pass by OK Go.

New for 2011:
The theme for F.A.T. 14 is "Sonnet." Build your link in the spirit of the 14-line sonnet or write a sonnet to accompany your machine. Perhaps you will have 14 "steps" in your reaction, or perhaps Shakespeare's sonnets will inspire your design. In addition to our usual building activities for kids, FAT 14 will feature community sonnet creation and other poetry-inspired activities. The word sonnet derives from "little song" so let your creativity sing!


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


Registration for F.A.T. 2011 will open after Labor Day.

The Day of the Event:

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.


Parking is available in the West Garage on Vassar Street across from Rockwell Cage Gymnasium, or on the surrounding streets. 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 museuminfo@mit.edu for 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. the day of F.A.T.

Videos from Past Years

2006 Chain Reaction | 2007 Chain Reaction | 2008 Chain Reaction
2009 Chain Reaction | 2010 Chain Reaction | 2011 Chain Reaction

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