Friday, August 01, 2008


So the Dinosaur Workshop is over and a great time was had by all.

We had 10 students and 2 prekie assistants this year and we spread the workshop over a night and a class period the next day. Then it was going so well we took it on the road for another class period and most of the afternoon and evening. It was all that and a bag of chips.

If the *festival project* and *knot dating* were the signature pieces of my early teaching and the *critical path/Rube Goldberg* and the *John Henry* projects are the signature of my current teaching, the *Dinosaur Workshop* is definitely my Pre-College signature piece. This is the second year we've done it. Last year we barely finished two pieces. This year with some excellent drawing revisions we managed to complete seven pieces and add one as big as it can be version.

We'd done the T-Rex, Trike, Spino, and Steg before:

This year we added a brachiasaur, in the same scale:

and somewhat larger:

The somewhat larger version is roughly 17' long and 12' tall. Last year when I did this I got featured on and they posited "How big can he go?" This was their answer. The largest piece in this model is sized to be as big as it can be on a 4x8 sheet of plywood without having to add any seams. The whole model takes seven sheets of plywood, and this variety of puzzle actually has about 1/3 less pieces than the ones we drafted last year.

The scale is too big. The neck is too slender to support the head of the model, so in the end we had to add a cheater bar - we clamped on a piece of 1" box steel. If we do another one, we'll probably double up the thickness of several of the more load bearing pieces. Although this thing would hold itself standing it was decidedly wambly. Going to 1.5" on the spine, hips, shoulders, and legs would probably solve that issue, although clamping on a piece of 1x didn't so maybe it would need to be even beefier.

After lunch we cleaned up the shop and moved outside (cue the legions of slaves - nothing gets it done like the legions):

I thought the kids would have fun taking their small pieces around campus and shooting odd photos. A couple did, but mostly they just collapsed and soaked up the sun. So we wound up with a fairly nice display. First we did the "Mother and Children" picture:

and then something with a little conflict:

and then a great big family photo:

It turned into a little bit of a happening. People were stopping by and snapping a lot of photos. I heard many things like "That is awesome" and one "Why does CMU have to be so cool?" A bunch of Drama faculty saw it and I even had a brief conversation with the Provost - as well as many less distinguished viewers. Probably the neatest group was the pre-school daycare kids who were just amazed at the whole thing, and who amazed me by knowing the names of all the dinosaurs. It was so popular among passers by that I decided to leave it up after the end of class at 3:30 until 6:00 and then at 6:00 to leave it until 7:30; and while we were striking it at 7:30ish someone showed up and asked "Where are all the dinosaurs? I came back from home to take pictures." There were also quite a few "I wonder if this will be up through Monday?" murmurs along the way.

Probably the highlight of my day though was mid-day at the end of the session when I hear "Best, Class, Ever!" from one of my students. Nice to hit the target once in a while.

More pics...

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


Peg said...

I've been thinking a lot about the post you wrote not long ago, about the news. I mentally filed it under "wish I had written it."

With that in mind, congratulations on bringing so much goodwill to the campus. This project is such a kick. Hope it goes even more good places.

Have you thought of contacting the campus PR people about this? It might even make the local news... I say that without irony... or at least make a great article in one or many newsletters and/or next year's Pre-College press materials.

Rebecca said...

The dinos are definitely a good way to distract the eye from the stairway to heaven or whatever that strange scuplture of people walking into the sky is. The dinos are also pretty darn cool on their own.

Anonymous said...

Cool shop, even cooler project.
Not sure which of Bill's works it will fit into. Perhaps the "Tragedy of Coriolanusarus" or even "King Rex" Mark