The exhibit Rollentless has been in storage; it will be reinstalled in February for patrons to enjoy once more.

In 2012, exhibit maker John Ito designed one of Mindport’s most interactive exhibits— Rollentless. This exhibit is the most interactive because it consists of many parts; there are over forty varied track pieces to choose from. Some pieces are short, some are medium-sized and undulating; others are two feet long and can stretch all the way across the exhibit. Visitors can arrange these track pieces whichever way they want by affixing them to a backboard with dowels, creating a unique route for marbles to travel. Much like toy cars on ramps, the marbles move faster or slower depending on the track’s design and placement. The exhibit facilitates hands-on learning, an experiential form of learning that encourages experimentation, teamwork, and critical thinking.

We’ve seen some impressive Rollentless tracks created by our visitors—for example, at one point a patron created a design with ramps side-by-side and overlapping, the most compact strategy to date. The track had so many paths that multiple marbles could start at the same time and race to the end. Affixing the track pieces and then experimenting encourages patrons to flex their creativity, think outside of the box, and test their understanding of kinetic energy, velocity, and gravity. Like experimenting in life, we must consistently try new things to find what works. And maybe even discover a better way to do things than what was originally intended.

Rollentless joins some of John Ito’s other exhibits, which have been on display for the past few years—Allella, BellaStella, and Diaballique. Ito describes his exhibits as kinetic sculptures that emphasize sound and physics. You can see how he came to this conclusion, as they all create beautiful music with unique motions. For example, when marbles glide through Rollentless the vibrations of the wood create a rhythmic ringing. You can experiment with the noise pattern of these vibrations by re-organizing the track structure or changing track pieces.

Come visit Mindport Exhibits to check out John Ito’s work and create your unique route with Rollentless!