How to build a better block

Beyond Rubik's Cube

At Liberty Science Center, we like to encourage future engineers to create, test, and then improve what they’ve built. And we practice what we preach. Case in point: We just gave a makeover to a block.

In our Beyond Rubik’s Cube traveling exhibition, we had a set of big blocks for our youngest visitors. Each block had six different-colored sides, and visitors could fit the blocks into a grid to match colors and play with Rubik-esque patterns. But after a year at LSC and a year traveling to other science centers around the continent, the blocks were looking pretty beat-up:

So before the exhibition went to its next stop, we decided we needed new blocks. We took the opportunity to make them even better than before. The old ones were made of lovely maple, but they proved heavy, pointy, and not as durable as we’d hoped. For the new ones, we thought more about who was using the blocks (little kids) and how they were using them (stacking and toppling).

Then we went in search of something softer and friendlier. We worked with the wonderful people at The Children’s Factory to create a custom foam block that matches the old size and colors exactly. The polyurethane cover holds up better and comes clean more easily than the old wood, and better yet, if one accidentally bops you, it’s six times lighter–just 6 ounces instead of 2 ¼ pounds!

Play with the new and improved blocks at San Antonio’s DoSeum through May and at Charlotte’s Discovery Place starting in June.

Exhibition blog by Lauren Aaronson. Lauren is an Exhibit Developer here at the Science Center.

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