Big Kids Play With Bigger Blocks

I saw an article on Gizmodo in the last couple weeks about scientists who designed 3,900 pound concrete structures that can be moved by a single person. As I read about cuts to arts in schools and the elimination of recess, I figured there was a need to toss out an example in support of unstructured free time.

There are a bunch of fun to watch GIFs on the article’s page, but here is a video of what they did:

As some of the commenters to the article point out, yes it is one thing to roll pre-cast objects over a concrete floor and another to quarry stone to transport over muddy ground. So while this may not entirely explain how Stonehenge, the pyramids and the Moai of Rapa Nui were created, there is some proof of concept upon which to base the design of structures to be used in emergency situations.

From my point of view, the development of the objects people are moving around have some basis in playing with Legos or other building materials and may move on to increasingly practical applications. I am sure that at some point in the past, at least one person who contributed to the design of the project was afforded the time to juggle things around in their hands to see how it all fit together and explore the properties of what they made were. Leaps of imagination and experimentation occurred until someone made a video of people rocking two ton chunks of concrete around with a light push.

Time to play with the simplest objects can result in new insights. But that is difficult to accomplish if you grow up thinking there is no value in such activities, exploration and curiosity.

This may not be the first time you heard about someone gaining insight into ancient construction techniques. A retired construction worker in Michigan demonstrated some much more compelling theories about ancient construction techniques some years ago. (I couldn’t find any better quality video than this.) He employed the same design elements of rounded/beveled edges to great effect, especially considering he was moving blocks across less prepared surfaces and using tools more readily available to anyone.

Though to use his techniques in an emergency situation, you would need much more knowledge to construct barriers and structures than with the prefabricated concrete objects in the first video.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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