The Art Of Motion Control

Youth Science Center and the Math Crew:

As part of an NSF grant awarded to the Science Museum of Minnesota and TERC, I was invited to participate as Artist-in-Residence over a 3 year span, beginning in the summer of 2001. The grant is aimed at developing exhibits and curricula related to making calculus more understandable (and less daunting). One of my responsibilities is to work with a group of youths (middle school to high school age) who will help in the design and implementation of one or more calculus-related art exhibits-- The Math Crew.

Camping trip 2001:

During the summer of '01, we met twice a week, and started to play with various ideas. One of the highlights of this summer was an overnight camping trip (including the other YSC teams), complete with volleyball, swimming, campfire cooking, a canoe trip, and an early morning wakeup call from a black bear! My favorite shot, taken at a beach on the St. Croix River:

Building our shop in the YSC:

As part of our activities, we are designing and then modifying the space that we have to work with in the Youth Science Center, at the Museum. We have been given permission to set up a small shop (including power tools), and have built rap-around shelving to house and organize our projects:

Real and virtual space:

11/17/01 -- Unloading materials:

11/24/01 -- Fire proofing and making brackets ready:

Trip to Duluth:

On January 5, 2002, the Crew set off on a trip to Duluth. The purpose of this excursion was to collect time and distance data, for a developing calculus exhibit. Major landmarks along the way-- Tobie's and the Great Lakes Aquarium:

MicroWorlds and the Ovagraph:

As spring approaches, the Crew created "seasonal" artworks to bring home prior to the school break:

October 26-27, 2002 - Overnight at "the Farm:"

The Crew got a chance to experience the process of design and CNC steel cutting first hand. Each member first drew his/her name out, following the two key rules: 1) only one torch start (no lifting the pencil after it's down), and 2) no islands. Each design was then scanned, traced, and tweaked so that the final path allowed both the inside (positive) and outside (negative) to be used.

The first activity was cutting the names out of 1/4" steel plate:

Of course, there was time for exploring:

Frisbee, and when the sun went down, a bonfire:

The next morning, we cut our names out of a steel pipe, using a cylindrical geometry rig:

After welding the two halves together, several hours of grinding, and some creative lighting on the back side, our sign is now up!

February, 2003 - Working on "Archimedes' Limit:"

During the fall of 2002, The Crew was presented with an example of the "limit concept" -- the "soul" of calculus -- and challenged to come up with a way to build an exhibit that might get this difficult idea across to our Museum visitors. Not only did they come up with a great idea-- but they put in a lot of effort to make the idea happen:

October, 2003 -- 2nd annual overnight at "the Farm:" Erecting the "Ferrosaurus"

July, 2004 -- 3rd annual overnight at the Farm: "Paint Machines"