Many times, we see creations that are larger than life. For example, characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck
and the Chipmunks walk around the Disney parks bringing enjoyment to all. Artists sometimes portray figures as being
quite large. Michelangelo's sculpture of David stands thirteen and a half feet tall. Motion pictures have featured giant
ants, reptiles, and the classic, King Kong, the huge gorilla. Folklore and mythology tell of super humans such as Paul
Bunyan, Hercules, Odysseus and many others.
The method of presenting these creations is also important. Whether by the backdrop of the Magic Kingdom, museums,
theaters or books, the characters are portrayed in an atmosphere that enhances their characteristics.
- The Problem
The problem is to design and construct an inflatable room to display examples of organisms or an ecosystem. The
solutions to the problem are to be shown larger than life-size and presented in a unique environment.
The inflatable room, in addition to becoming exhibit space, may become part of the solution. For example, it may
represent a single drop of water. Other microscopic organisms may be constructed in proportion to the overall room
and hung inside. The room could also be made as a heart or brain, or it could represent a body of water with a
food chain displayed. Slides may be projected onto the walls. Keep in mind that the room may be used as an interesting
space to exhibit anything the group wishes.
- A window fan (approximately 20") will be used to inflate the room (see Figure A). A fan with several speeds
is recommended. Select the speed that is most desirable to inflate the room. The fan should be plugged into
a socket and placed out of the flow of traffic. Use duct tape to secure the electric wire to the floor.
- The plastic sheets used to make the room should be reasonably heavy (.004-.006). These are available in farm
supply, hardware, and some paint stores. Be sure to include a bottom to the room. It is desirable to place an
additional piece of plastic or something on the room's floor to prevent it from wearing through.
- The inflatable room must have a doorway at each end. This is merely a piece of duct tape placed on the plastic
and slit down the middle (see Figure B). These must-remain easily accessible and unsealed. When someone
enters or leaves the room, the immediate loss of air will cause the room to collapse to some degree; however,
it will quickly regain its shape.
- The inflatable room should be made by a group of students. Individuals and/or groups may make the items,
organisms, or subjects to be displayed inside.
- All wires, extension cords, etc., should be taped to a part of the room where they won't be stepped on or tripped over.
- No flammable liquids may be used.
- No light bulbs may come within 12" of the plastic.
- The size of the inflatable room may vary. You may begin with a 9' x 12' space; it can easily be expanded.
Exceptionally large rooms may require an additional fan.
- The Activity
- This is not a competition problem; it is a group project. The group may include as few as three or four people
or as many as fifty or more.
- The students should have a brainstorming session to suggest as many ideas of subjects to exhibit as possible.
- Once the students decide what is to be exhibited, they should then establish a timetable and a budget, assign
specific exhibit details, and plan a grand opening.
- Each group should then construct its assignment for display.
- The inflatable room and its contents may be displayed in the school library, community center, a mall, bank, etc.