Jiwi's Machines

A thrillingly interactive, hilariously physical, scientific web experience for Kiwi kids

Jiwi's Machines was funded in 2014 through the Digital Media Kickstart Fund. The project is a comedy webseries, an interactive website, as well as a deeply educational experience for enquiring young minds.

NZ On Air funding: $300,000

Producer: Gemma Gracewood
Director: Jeff Szusterman
Creator, Writer, Performer: Joseph Herscher

Jiwi's Machines was launched on 6 November 2015.

Watch Jiwi's Machines online.

Jiwi and June

Jiwi, played by Joseph Herscher, lives in a typical Kiwi house with his neat-freak sister. He is a curious and loveable genius, but he is also a tad lazy and slightly clumsy. He will do anything to avoid doing what he's supposed to, including spending all day building a Rube Goldberg machine to do his jobs for him.

Each episode of the series features one or more Rube Goldberg machines that Jiwi has created from everyday household objects - including one with a parrot! The comedy is provided by Jiwi's hilarious antics and his attempts to cover up his mistakes. 

Jiwi, June and their Parrot

Alongside the delightfully funny entertainment, Jiwi's Machines has a deeper purpose. The project uses comedy and surprise to get Kiwi kids engaged in science, before they even realise that's what they're doing. For each machine, and alongside each episode, the technology and the science behind levers, wheels and axles, pulleys, planes, wedges and screws, is explained by our guest scientists who are all children.

The series was filmed at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland, where the set provided a live exhibit for several months as the machines were installed and filming was underway. Thousands of children watched the scenes come together. Joseph also ran Rube Goldberg workshops at the museum for local school groups.

Episode 1. Crumbs

In 2014 the Kickstart fund called for transmedia projects with a focus on children. Jiwi's Machines combined the real world activities at MOTAT with workshops, created a slew of extra videos to explain the science, developed an education resource for teachers, and the four part webseries. 

In building the website Joseph Herscher also developed new technology for playing 'videos within videos'. As the viewer watches one of the Special Features, they can trigger additional explanations to play within the video window, and then resume playing the original. 

Watch the series!

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