October 23, 2017

K’NEX project rises to Guinness World Record

The K'nex structure in the cafeteria reaches up to the top of the second floor ceiling.

Wondering what the giant K’NEX structure is doing in the cafeteria? Certainly, it stands out from the backpacks, cafeteria trays, and Raider t-shirts of the high school environment. Currently standing at about fifteen feet tall, it has wowed students and teachers alike.

What’s really happening: students Cole Smith ’16, Max Pavlov ’16 and Zane Salameh ’18 are leading an effort to break a Guinness World Record for the tallest freestanding K’NEX ball machine.

Smith decided to start the project after expanding on an extra credit assignment for his physics class.

“After it got to the point where I couldn’t reach the top, I checked up on the world record,” he said. “Seeing that it’s a less than impressive maximum, I decided to attempt to breach it.”

Currently, the tallest K’NEX ball machine recorded by Guinness World Records stands at twenty three feet with over a hundred thousand pieces, in The Works Museum in Bloomington, MN.

According to the team, supporters of the project include friends, family, and even strangers.

“The faculty of Wellesley High have also been very supportive in letting us build there,” said Dan Carter ’18, a collaborator on the project.

“While it was originally students, our largest financial supporters have been parents and, more recently I got in contact with K’nex themselves, who agreed to help,” Smith added.

On their Facebook page, “The Knektors,” Smith announced the K’NEX company agreed to sponsor the building of their ball machine. “We can’t thank K’NEX enough for their willingness to support us in this endeavor,” he said.

The project hasn’t always been smooth sailing, however. Salameh recalls the dangers of leaving a fragile machine in a high school cafeteria: “We’ve had only one incident of someone purposely destroying one of our machines, but it’s still a big risk,” he said.

Through the ups and downs of this endeavor, Smith has learned two important lessons. First, he advises classmates to plan everything. “One oversight or misstep can throw off a lot,” he said.
Second, another tip is to stay open to ideas and forms of support. “Keeping people in the dark won’t help you, and all it will serve to do is deter people from supporting you,” he said.

— Christie Yu ’18,  Arts Editor

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