The Bike Sim


Lawrence Hall of Science - TechHive & Public Science Center

The Challenge:

We were asked to create a self-sustaining exhibit that could engage many visitors at once on the museum floor. The exhibit was to survive on the floor for two of the busiest weeks during the summer. The exhibit had to follow the "design, build, test" challenge model of the Ingenuity Lab.

Our Solution:

Adapting an exhibit we originally showcased at MakerFaire 2013, we made an interactive, community-based paper-made city on the surface of a large, bike powered drum. As the bike was peddled, the drum would slowly rotate. A small video camera was mounted on one end of the drum, provided visitors with an ant’s- eye tour of the tiny city. Visitors could add to the city by building their own 4” x 4” lot.


This project attracted new teen interns to the TechHive because they saw that this project was built with the help of our current teen interns.

As the city was constructed over time and evolved, the experience of riding through it would change. This resulted in prolonged and repeated visits to the Bike Sim. The Bike Sim was built from familiar components (bike parts, repurposed classroom tables, a webcam). Additionally, the mechanics of the Bike Sim were visible and thus accessible to younger visitors who could relate to bike gears. Visitors were inspired because they could create a similar project at home using materials they already have.