‘Science Friday’ wants you to invent an art-making machine

April 7

“Science Friday,” a weekly call-in show on NPR, launched its “Science Club” feature March 28 with a challenge to listeners: Invent a machine that creates art, and send us a video of it. Designed in collaboration with the Tinkering Studio, part of San Francisco’s Exploratorium museum, the challenge had within days elicited dozens of submissions. The expanding array is visible on the show’s Web site, www.sciencefriday.com/scienceclub.

One of the staff favorites so far, according to Science Friday’s education manager, Ariel Zych, is Hex Bug Music, a collection of cockroach-looking toys that make tinkling noises by dancing on a xylophone. Another is Bernie the Beardtrimmer Bot, a personal hair-cutting device modified to draw geometric forms. An alternative band called OK Go submitted its 2010 song “This Too Shall Pass: Rube Goldberg Machine Version” — a nearly four-minute number performed in a crazy, gymnasium-size configuration of careening, rolling, bouncing, falling, splashing objects . . . well, it’s hard to describe.

If you’re feeling creative, the site has instructions for submitting videos through almost any social media site or by e-mail. (Use the hashtag #MachineArt.) They’ll wrap up the challenge on the April 25 program (2 to 4 p.m.). To get your idea online before then, the site advises, “put on your tinkering tunes, and begin making, engineering, designing, and hacking to make art happen.”

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