Mail Order: First Factory

Eli Whitney Museum

Show Menu

We produce, prepare and assemble all the parts for all the projects in our catalog. Many of the kits you see on our site are available for you to purchase to build in your classroom, after school programs, or school event. Few tools are necessary. We can sell you a box of scrap/daycare wood for $5/box. If you purchase our kits, we’ll take you through the steps and give you teaching tips when you pick them up. Not all projects are in stock at all times nor are all projects available for wholesale. Call or email Sally Hill (sh@eliwhitney) to discuss and order.

You may call Sally Hill at the Whitney Workshop to place the order. Please feel free to call us with any questions about our products.

Building Bugs

 Building Bugs thumbnail

Consider the parts of a bug. Six legs, eyes, abdomen, antennae, wings (or not), spiracles, color to hide (or not). Study models and pictures and construct your own bug to understand the names and purposes of the parts.

Learn More...

Balance / Folk Toys


Immigrants brought to America traditions of crafting simple playthings out of common materials. These toys develop dexterity and inventiveness. Two toys from the catalog of classics. Understand Force and Motion or connect to Colonial curriculum or the geography of play. Yesterday's toys for today's kids – and they still evoke wonder. Nothing and everything is new.

Learn More...

Balancing Circus


The Circus explores the art and science of balance, forces, center or gravity and performance. Conceived with a nod to artist /engineer Sandy Calder, each circus tests classic experiments at work.

Expands STC curriculum.

Learn More...

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura thumbnail

A complete light laboratory in a box. Construct a box that captures and focuses images. Use it as a camera artist's drawing tool. Or make it into a model of the eye. Then rearrange the elements. Direct a light source on an image inside the box to project the image into a darkened room – recreate one of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest leaps of invention: a projector.

Learn More...

Canal Boat

Canal Boat

Canal boats tell the story of the first bold man-made trade network, of community cooperation, of the ingenious use of water power. Construct a boat, its mules, people and canal bed in 1/4th" scale. Operate a model lock. With the rich illustrations of Peter Spier's Erie Canal ©1970

Learn More...


Catapult thumbnail

Explore the ancient and challenging mechanics of catapults. Rubber bands power this model. Safe for people and places when used with the ping pong ball provided. Make Happy Birds and fling them with accuracy.

Learn More...

Connecticut Clipper or New England Whaling


In the first half of the 19th century, Connecticut joined the race to California and China in sleek, bold Clipper Ships. Construct a model clipper with a hold to export and import cargo that built Connecticut's industry and commerce.

Using the Charles W. Morgan, (a 19th c. whaling ship now berthed at Mystic Seaport) as a model, understand the industry that brought whalebone to the Strouse Adler Company Corset Factory in New Haven to make undergarments for upstanding Connecticut ladies.

Learn More...

Dexterity Games

Dexterity Game 2013

More than a century ago Mark Twain marveled that, surrounded by a world of inventions, children devoted their time to games: handheld marble games, to be specific.

Those games still appeal. Design a game with it’s beginning middles and end. Hammer in pegs. Stretch a web of rubber bands. Play.

One marble is not a challenge. Three marbles become a game.

Learn More...

Dynabrolly: Waves


Looking at wave forms at different speeds and the effect of weight, air friction and gravity. As the speed changes, see the different number of waves traveling around the edge of the cloth.

Learn More...


ElectriCity  thumbnail

Switch on understanding. Construct a house with a power source. Connect positive and negative test bars with contact points and switches for you to test different configurations of incandescent and LED lights. Test it. Understand series and parallel circuits. Test them. Rearrange them. Test again. Then experiment with other challenges.... Lessons in electricity and thinking.

Learn More...


New Electromagnet

Understand electricity through the same experiments that early scientists used. Wind a coil of wire. Suspend a bar magnet in it. Charge the coil with a battery to spin the magnet. Test polarity. Discover the origins of motors and Morse Code.

Learn More...

Environmental Design: Birdfeeder

Birdfeeder 2012

Feeders influence the world of birds. You must understand the habits and needs of the birds you wish to help. Which seeds are most nutritious? Which bird likes which seed? Are there things that I should not serve? Where should I locate the feeder?

So many birds, so many rules you need to understand.

Learn More...

Fishing Boat

Fishing Boat  thumbnail

Water is the perfect laboratory for experiment. Construct a boat. How will water test its materials, balance, and buoyancy? Test your work in our Water Learning Lab (May – Sept). Choose our Fishing Boat or the Leonardo Paddlewheel Boat.

Learn More...

Flying Pulleys


Sometimes you have to strip away all the non-essential parts to see an idea at work. Neil Downie proposes a clever study of the exchange of speed for force. A second array of pulleys float between input pulleys and the output pulley. An elegant display of force in motion.

Learn More...

Hands on Stories

Strictly No Elephants

Listen, look, and build. We offer a whole library of projects to help our students get in touch with famous stories.

Learn More...

Hill Quest

Simple Wedge

Wheels, axles, chassis parts, connectors and rubber bands are the basic components of each kit that allows students to construct cars that sprint or creep to the top of a wooden ramp…jousting with another student’s car. Challenge: Beat your opponent to the top of the three foot ramp and hold your ground. The project tests all the dynamics of Force and Motion and tests planning and problem solving.

Learn More...

House of Straw, Sticks or Bricks

House of Straw, Sticks or Bricks thumbnail

Construct a basic shelter. Choose walls and roof. Consider what materials are available where. Build a family. Consider the problems your walls will protect them from: rain, snow, heat, fire, winds, floods, mice, bugs or wolves.

Learn More...

Leonardo Car

Leonardo Car

Students build rubber-band powered cars with simple steering. Lively insights into the mechanics, measurement and math of motion.

Learn More...

Leonardo Stage

Cinderella's Labor

This project encourages story telling and embellishment to children of many ages. Breaking down a story into 'scenes' and creating two scenes from that story hones multiple skills.

Learn More...

Life Stages - Plants or Animals

Life Stages - Plants or Animals thumbnail

Each living thing goes through stages of development. Construct a small theater with scenes that change to present the growth cycle of plants or animals. We offer materials to study typically pumpkins or butterflies. With a design flexible enough for teachers and students to go back to their classes and present another life cycle on the reverse side of each stage block.

Learn More...

Light: Quicker than the Eye


Scientists and artists want to understand how the eye and brain work together. This device lets you spin patterns at controlled speeds. Blend images. Trick your eye into seeing colors where there are none. Make columns wobble in 3D after the artist Duchamp. Animate birds. Create your own illusions.

Learn More...

Magnetic Pendulum

Ecosystems Magnetic Pendulum

All creatures live in a web of resources that support or suppress their growth. Create a dynamic model of an insect’s or bird’s world. Suspend a magnetized creature on a pendulum. Add food and shelter (with magnets) that attract the creature and predators and hazards that repel it. The creature navigates a complex and fascinating path.

Learn More...

Measure Mobile


Sand, assemble and decorate the wheels, axles, chassis and driver of a wooden downhill racer. Then experiment. Measure the distance it travels from the end of its track. Change the pitch of the track and measure again. Change the weight of the car and measure again. An intro to numbers as the voice of science.

Learn More...

Pinball Machine

Pinball Machine  thumbnail

A popular project that teaches game design (beginnings, middles and ends), logic (rewards for difficulty), marble movement (caroms, momentum) and creative design (good games must still attract players.) A rare exploration of the work of play.

Learn More...

Reversing Switch & Buggy

Reversing Switch Buggy

A battery's current flows in one direction. Clever arrangement of switches can reverse that direction. Construct a controller with a battery, motor and ultralight buggy which can go forward or backward. Learn wiring logic, precision, and trouble shooting.

Learn More...

Robot Drum


Construct a music machine. Hear the logic of Leonardo's mind at work as he invents the first modern robot, an automatic drummer whose rhythms can be reprogrammed flexibly and whose tempos adjust automatically. Invent your own cadences.

Learn More...

Rocks of Connecticut

Rocks 2013 lens, light

Each child will build a display box to sort and test 6 (plus a mystery rock) rocks and minerals brought to the Museum from across Connecticut. Each sample will have different properties.

Every student will learn to use and will take home a lighted field microscope (10x - 60x).

Learn More...

Rubber Band Car

Rubber Band Car

Students construct cars powered by rubber bands and measure their performance after 20 minutes of practice. Lively insights into the mechanics, measurement and math of motion. Great for a followup program on creative elaboration. New design now employs wheels of diameter 1/π.

Learn More...

Simple Machine Catapult

Simple Machine Catapult

When you build a catapult with three simple machines as part of the design (lever, pulley, screw), you add multiple levels of complexity to an already elegantly conceived machine. Adjust trajectory, control trigger mechanism and launch ping pong balls with more thoughtful plans than just point and release.

Learn More...

Simple Machines

Simple Machine 2013

Whitney demonstrated the power of machines to guide and ease work. The screws, threads, levers and pulleys of this machine organize effort into power you can feel. Students assemble interchangeable parts and invent a personality for their machine.

Learn More...

Slave Ship

Slave Ship

Two hundred years ago, congress outlawed American ships’ transporting slaves. Slave trading did not stop. Even Connecticut’s ports were linked to this deadly commerce. Construct a slave ship printed with a powerful image that helped overturn this abuse. Learn the math and maps and misery of this trade.

Learn More...

Solar System Model - the Orrery

Solar System Model - the Orrery thumbnail

Models organize big ideas for scientists and students; they identify and test questions and are ideal tools for thinking. The Earth/Moon Rotation orrery shows our planetary movement around the sun and demonstrates lunar orbit and moon phases when illuminated with an accompanying light.

Learn More...

Sustainable Energy

Sustainable Energy thumbnail

Windmills have captured renewable energy for up to 2000 years. In new forms, wind machines will harness even more power in the future. Construct a classic whirligig to control, measure and apply wind power. With adjustable rotors.

Learn More...

Sustainable House


Construct a birdhouse of sustainably harvested pine and re-used plywood. Learn the measurements of adapting house to species. Learn to site house for temperature and security. Learn annual recycling. Learn sensible building choices for birds (and people) Or a birdfeeder.

Learn More...

The Whitney Relay

Whitney Relay

The Whitney Relay is a set of inter­connect­able parts that lets students master the art and science of energy transfer in the tradition of the Rube Goldberg Machine or its contemporary Japanese masterpiece: the Pythagoras Switch. Each student receives 5 ramps, 8 marbles, 6 blocks, and assorted parts to construct a chain reaction that could include your whole class. Thoughtful lessons in mechanics, invention and teamwork.

Learn More...


Violin thumbnail

Construct a two string instrument and a bow. Devise experiments to modify pitch and tone and volume. Consider the variables of materials, tension, touch and your own dexterity... all experiments measured by ear.

Learn More...

Weather Station

Weather Station 2013

Nearly everything we do is affected by the weather. So weather forcasting is a special science. To create a weather broadcast however, you need to gather data and interpret the meanings. Our Weather Station measures 1) temperature, 2) wind direction 3) wind speed 4) rainfall and describes cloud formations.

Learn More...

Back to Top