April 9, 2018 – The last day to see our K’nex Machine as it is!
A new one is coming in its place!
Get to know our giant K’Nex Ball Machine.
The original enormous kinetic sculpture was built by University of Minnesota Student and K’Nex-structure expert, Austin Granger. Unofficially (we’re checking on it!) the largest K’Nex Ball Machine in the world, our new sculpture is 23′ tall and incorporates more than 100,000 K’Nex pieces.
The structure was an engineering feat in itself; Austin’s previous structures were designed for his personal use, not to run eight hours daily for public viewing. He experimented with pieces donated by a long-time supporter of The Works Museum and members of the community to build a frame strong enough to support continuous use. In addition, he had to determine how to make his vision possible by attaching the sculpture to the ceiling and wrapping it around the stairwell.
Austin started building with K’Nex when he was four years old. In middle school he was inspired when he saw another K’Nex builder’s complex, kinetic machine. He experimented with his own structures, trying to build something similar to, or even better than, the structure that inspired him. Today, he’s still building giant kinetic sculptures while pursuing a degree in computer science and product design.
We asked Austin what advice he’d share with young visitors who want to build machines like this one. He said to start by challenging yourself to build the strongest towers, bridges and other structures you can. The frame of your machine needs to be strong in order to withstand moving parts. Once your structures are strong, work on building even higher and longer structures – bridges that span longer distances and towers that reach the ceiling. The next step – add in the kinetic pieces. It involves a lot of trial and error to learn the skills and understand how to engineer with K’Nex at this scale.
We hope you’ll be inspired by our new K’Nex Ball Machine. Imagine what you could build and create!