Called the McKnelly Megalith, it was a tribute to the death of their T.A.'s parents just a few weeks before.
But it was also an experiment, which aimed to show just how one of the greatest architectural wonders of the world was constructed: the Moai of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island.
Constructed over a period of just a couple weeks, the McKnelly Megalith is a one-ton sculpture made out of fiberglass-reinforced concrete that can be moved with just a fingertip
Weighing 2,000 pounds, and with a soft foam core to help prevent it from sinking into MIT's lush grass, it's not nearly as heavy as a moai. But it's still heavy enough to validate the Megalith Robotics class' methods.
hink of it like a much bigger version of one of those [bird toys that balance on the tip of your fingers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_of_mass#/media/File:Bird_toy_showing_center_of_gravity.jpg).
It's center of mass is positioned in just such a way that it can easily be spun with a minimum of force.
The class only decided to make a megalith themselves when tragedy struck. The class's teaching assistant, Carrie Lee McKnelly, lost both her parents in a tragic fire.
Megalithic architecture, like the Moai, tends to take the form of memorial to departed ancestors. The class decided it made sense to honor the memory of the McKnellies with a megalith of their own.
So over the course of a May afternoon earlier this year, the McKnelly Megalith was moved into place the same way as the moai were, wobbled into place by a small team of workers at a rate of about 300 feet per hour, then hoisted upright with a rope.
The McKnelly Megalith even looks like a post-modern Moai, although Clifford says this anthropomorphic aspect of the sculpture was accidental: the McKnelly Megalith's eye is really just a convenient place to tie a knot for its ultimate hoisting.
The McKnelly Megalith did not spend much time on MIT's front lawn. However, the Megalith Robotics class proved their theories with it, and next week, it will find a permanent home in Lexington, Massachusetts, where MIT students can go experiment with it for themselves.