Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What HSC Really Means

Kinetic Sculpture Exhibit
  As children growing up we all understood how a teeter-totter worked. We understood concepts of balance, mass, leverage, and gravity. We just didn’t know it. As an adult I’ve always believed the lever is by far the most useful device ever discovered. Such a simple notion, but I’ve used makeshift levers to help with many a task from household cleaning to moving boulders. Modern-day inventors have even capitalized on this idea to sell simple and inexpensive ways to move furniture.

At the Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji, my favorite exhibit is the Kinetic Sculpture––a grand and fascinating piece of art that displays simple machines at work. The game of Mouse Trap that we used to play is a small example of this kind of design, but the Sculpture at HSC presents the concept on a magnificent scale. It is 10’ high and, through it’s winding wire framework, small balls travel around paths and twirl, whirl, drop, and are catapulted here and there by an array of simple mechanisms until they reach the bottom, only to be lifted by a long hoisting device until they again reach the top. It is a continuous cycle. Each little machine is fascinating onto itself, but as a group they create a work of moving art that is mesmerizing and relaxing to watch.

The front window at HSC now displays a playground. It is an appropriate environment demonstrating the idea of “hands-on” science, or learning through play. At the center of the display is a teeter-totter indicating the progress of the current fundraising blitz that will bring in funds to pay a salary for a new director. The “I Gave Ten” idea is elementary: $10 from 4,000 people will bring in the better part of a director’s salary for a year. It’s a simple concept, but one that can accomplish a mighty task. Watch the teeter-totter move as donations come in and––if you wish––come to HSC and play!
Check out their web site at and make an on-line donation, stop in, mail it (413 Beltrami Ave), or call and donate with a credit card (218-444-4472).

Julie Bengtson

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