Way back in the fall of 2001 we made several trips to The Getty to marvel at an exhibit of fanciful machines, Devices of Wonder. Back then Søren was barely two-years-old so he made his way via a stroller. But I guarantee, even back then my youngest boy was captivated.
One evening this past week, three weeks into Da Vinci Summer—our family’s DIY summer tradition—twelve-year-old Søren handed me a handmade device.
My husband and the boys have a tinker chest out back that keeps all sorts of cast off gadgets that this mom would not have the vision to keep. For this particular project, Søren chose a piece of square tubing that was once-upon-a-time a bathroom towel rung.
“Look mom,” I made a kaleidoscope, “but you have to look through it in the dark.”
So I followed his instructions and went into the closet, held the tube that Søren had carefully duct taped at both ends, peered through the end baring a peep hole and beheld the geometric activity of seven activated glow sticks, “Wow!”
This was no ordinary kaleidoscope.
And, though I believe my Søren is no ordinary son, I honestly believe that every child possesses certain genius. But certain genius demands certain prodding. And sometimes saying, “No,” is just the thing.
No video games.
Leonardo said, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
But the technological world has a pesky way of diverting the child from the world of curiosity, and when the child is diverted from curiosity, then doing, at least the kind that Leonardo is speaking of, becomes quite impossible.
Søren’s kaleidoscope is a product of doing.
And as an aside, pay a visit to the virtual Devices of Wonder exhibit at The Getty, an online activity that deserves a hearty, “Yes!”