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Come one, come all: 18th Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) Chain Reaction at MIT

18th century-themed Friday After Thanksgiving Chain Reaction presented by the MIT Museum to be held at MIT's Rockwell Cage Gymnasium.
The 18th annual Friday After Thanksgiving Chain Reaction will feature an enormous and unique Rube Goldberg-style device.
The 18th annual Friday After Thanksgiving Chain Reaction will feature an enormous and unique Rube Goldberg-style device.
Photo: Samara Vise/MIT Museum

The MIT Museum will host its 18th annual Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) Chain Reaction on Nov. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. in MIT's Rockwell Cage Gymnasium at 120 Vassar Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Everyone is welcome to attend — to watch, play games, get inspired, and relax with friends and family at this welcoming event.

This year’s theme is the 18th century. With the Age of Enlightenment serving as inspiration, teams will harken back to that era when the move toward science and rational thought began in Western Europe, and when people like Benjamin Franklin and Marie-Sophie Germain started working on inventions and ideas that would change the world. Organizers of this "only at MIT" event hope to encourage everyone to open their history books (or crack a Wikipedia page) as they ready their contraption/chain reaction for this fun family event.

Kinetic artists Arthur Ganson and Jeff Lieberman will mastermind the choreography of this Rube Goldberg-style collaboratively built chain reaction, assisted by teams and participants who range from families, friends, school groups, artists, inventors and engineers. Over 20 teams from across the country will participate in this one-of-a-kind engineering feat that is as fun for the audience as it is for those who have been building their creation during the previous week.

Throughout the early afternoon, teams put the finishing touches on their engineering marvels, while 18th century activities such as jumping rope and top spinning will engage children and their parents as they wait for the chain reaction to start. "Building a link and being part of a giant chain reaction allows people to explore their own creativity and see how their unique contraptions relate to a larger whole," says Brindha Muniappan, MIT Museum director of education and public programs. "No matter how complex the devices, by 3:30 p.m. they all work together,  and hundreds of people enthusiastically cheer them on. For those looking for something to do as a group activity, attending this event and visiting the MIT Museum makes for a perfect day."

Regular admission at the door for spectators is $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-17, students (with ID), seniors, and MIT ID-holders. Children under 5 years old are free. Admission to F.A.T. also includes a free same-day admission to the MIT Museum and store, which will remain open until 6 p.m. Parking is available at West Garage (125 Vassar Street) for $5.

Those not able to attend in person can follow what's going on via the #MITFAT hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

Press Mentions

Cambridge Chronicle

Natalie Handy of The Cambridge Chronicle writes about the MIT Museum’s Chain Reaction event, during which teams of people came together to build a mega machine. “Getting people involved, getting people excited, and dreaming and thinking about what they can make is what it’s all about,” said Jennifer Novotney of the MIT Museum. 

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