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Museum opens new K'Nex exhibit

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Observe, investigate and experiment with fully functioning replicas of machines, structures and amusement park rides with K'Nex: Building Thrill Rides, an exhibit open through Sept. 11 in the American Museum of Science and Energy, Oak Ridge.

This special exhibition is designed to captivate young visitors and provide them the opportunity to explore the science, math and technology behind hair-raising amusement park thrill rides.

Fifteen working thrill ride models, constructed solely from K’Nex rods and connectors, combine the principles of geometry, physics and mechanics.  

The realistic actions of the models bring scientific and engineering concepts to life for students, who can conduct simple experiments to explore physical forces such as potential and kinetic energy, and linear and rotational motion.

Museum visitors can imagine, build and play as they create their own K’Nex structures at the building areas. Children do not have to leave their on-site creations behind — instead, they can purchase their designs, with pricing based on a “weigh-and-pay” model (weight of total parts used at a predetermined price).

The largest working model is a 6-foot Ferris wheel that took 12 hours to build and is made up of 8,214 pieces and weighs 32 pounds.  

K’Nex began when Joel Glickman was at a wedding. He started playing with some straws and thinking about the possibilities.  This dabbling, followed by some innovative product engineering and a passion for excellence, led to the popular rod-and-connector system available around the world.

The American Museum of Science and Energy is at 300 S. Tulane Ave., Oak Ridge.