Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Human Catapult and Super Mario Kart

Earlier today, at a great school here in Massachusetts, I spoke with a few hundred kids about reading, writing, science, and everything in between. At the start I was telling them how I love writing stories about smart, slightly weird people building weird, fantastic things. We discussed fast furniture and homemade Iron Man suits, but here are two other recent examples, both from Popular Science. 

In one case, a group of young engineers converted an actual go-kart park into a live, realistic rendition of the video game Super Mario Kart. The technology, based around the FIRST Robotics Competition Kit, is amazing, but my favorite part of the story is how they walked into the go-kart park in their white lab coats, introduced themselves to the manager, explained their goals, and asked if they could use one of his carts. Amazingly, the guy agreed. For more, read the story here:


And here's another wonderfully odd one. An engineer named Jason Bell - who also built an automated tow rope for his kids so they don't have to trudge through the snow up their backyard hill while sledding - designed and constructed a human catapult to launch BASE jumpers off a bridge. I know. It sounds insane. But Bell was incredibly careful and paid a great deal of attention to safety. That story is here:


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