|Ming Hsuan Chang, an industrial design graduate student.
Industrial design graduate student Ming Hsuan Chiang has recently completed work on an impressive thesis project entitled “Spacejump.” Envisioning something that children and their parents can enjoy together, Chiang decided to create an amusement ride. What he created was a “giant, rotatable seesaw” which one or two people can use together, resulting in a “moon walk-like experience.”
Prior to construction, Chiang conducted over a year of research. He visited several toy stores and also administered a questionnaire to find out people’s perception of play. He discovered that “more than 85 percent of people said that they want to go out; they want to do outdoor activities while they are playing. It’s more like an intrinsic desire.” Chiang mentioned that an important read for him was “Children’s Perceptions of Play Experiences and Play Preferences: A Qualitative Study” by Elissa Miller and Heather Kuhaneck.
In addition, Chiang conducted research trips to several destinations over this two-year journey, including Disney World in Florida, Cedar Point and the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Ohio, Legoland in Denmark, and Strong National Museum of Play right here in Rochester. The spark for his idea, however, came from a trip to his professor’s home. There he observed kids on a trampoline, who were playing a game where they circled the perimeter and jumped, launching a child in the center upward. Through all of this, he learned that the current trend in the amusement industry is interaction, whether with a ride itself, or with another person.
At the completion of the research phase, Chiang was grateful to meet a man named Dean Shorey, a ride mechanic for Seabreeze Amusement Park in Irondequoit, N.Y. Together, Chiang and Shorey drafted several design changes, and gradually went from a one-tenth scale model to the half scale mockup that exists today. Over the summer, approximately 25 hours went into the fabrication and painting of the massive structure, which took place at a workshop on Seabreeze property. Shorey’s time was donated and retired parts from the amusement park were used to help facilitate a green build at a bear minimum cost.
The structure, which stands at nine feet tall with a beam length of 18 feet, was born from Chiang’s desire to create a fun way to strengthen the bond between parent and child. It relies on the use of a simple lever and pivot, counterweight, and seats. The machine was built to allow for three configurations. A child can sit on one side and use the leverage of a counterweight on the other end to help them jump. A parent and child can be positioned on opposite sides of the beam. This setup allows the parent to use their weight to keep the child airborne, or conversely allows the child to raise the parent. To facilitate contact between parent and child, Spacejump can also be manipulated so a parent can hold their child opposite a counterweight on the other end.
Because of its simplicity, boarding the ride only requires a quick balance of the system. While running, users are able leap as high as eight feet. Feedback from friends has given Chiang several ideas for improvements. Should Spacejump be built to full scale, he plans to add safety harnesses and a longer beam.
Chiang also has plans to submit his project to this spring’s Imagine RIT, where attendees would be able to experience Spacejump firsthand. Chiang has also stated that he’d like to design and build an amusement park called Dazzleland, comprised of rides following the same principle of simple fun.
To learn more about Chiang’s designs, visit http://coroflot.com/mhchiang.