Carnegie Science Center gets visitors moving at 'Blueprints'

| Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Tim Fort, the self-dubbed Kinetic King, spent about five hours on Sunday making a 32-foot-long contraption made of more than 1,500 pieces — everything from pingpong balls to tongue depressors.

His one hope: that it would destroy itself in a New York minute.

“I'm trying to entertain people by building a gadget that self-destructs kind of like dominoes on steroids,” said Fort, a kinetic artist who performed his wizardry on “America's Got Talent” in 2011.

The chain-reaction display culminated “Blueprints” weekend in Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore. Visitors got to view blueprints of historic buildings such as Fallingwater, build structures of foam rubber and towers of newspapers, and generally learn how to make the strongest structures.

Fort, for example, demonstrates scientific principles such as potential energy, which is stored like an apple on a tree, and kinetic or moving energy like an apple falling from a tree.

To the children running around the center, it's all about fun. In the Blue exhibit, children scurried about, attaching blue foam pieces of various shapes together.

“This is my castle,” said Anja Cook, 8, of Venetia. She added a crosspiece on the roof, stepped inside and sat down like a princess.

She was visiting the center with her mother, Emily, and brothers Caleb, 6, and Joshua, 5.

Ten feet away, Caleb was putting pieces together for his own house.

“I'm trying to beat Anja,” he confided, dismissing any other questions. “I'm trying to concentrate on this house.”

Katie Tokarczyk, 32, of Detroit and her nephew, Owen Jones, 9, stopped at a station where youngsters connected pieces of uncooked spaghetti with small marshmallows. The children learned that triangles are stronger shapes than rectangles.

“I like building a lot,” Owen said. “I have a ton of Legos at my house.”

Hannah Kincaid, 7, of Akron, Ohio, was building a cube under the watchful eyes of her mother, Laura, when one of the spaghetti poles collapsed.

“It's a leaning tower,” Hannah said.

About 4 p.m., 100 people gathered near Fort's structure. He tipped over a domino, setting off a chain reaction. A string of beads fell off a table, and a bridge of plastic cups imploded. The pingpong balls were catapulted into the air.

“There was a slight hiccup,” said Brad Peroney, program development coordinator. “The chain got stuck. (Fort) went over and gave it a little tap, and it started again.”

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or

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