Engineering Our Future in Leo’s Workshop

Millions of little projects…well maybe not millions, but lots of little hands making cardboard machines, rubber band cars, Marshmallow Delivery Devices (catapults), JitterBots, automata, Dragon Grabbers, things that fly or not…It’s all good fun and “just” another day at The Leo!

Sometimes this old guy who has tinkered for over 60 years has to use restraint and let the kids make wheels that don’t turn, or airplanes that fly like rocks or a spindly tower that crumbles in a child’s breath.

Sometimes when 7-year old boys try to build weapons of mass destruction, or a wide-eyed innocent little girl describes how to launch a flaming marshmallow, I intervene. I have to. Without restraint, kids may not always make things that are “makeable”

Even tinkering requires discipline. So I walk a tight rope. When do I make suggestions? When do I stand back? When do I scream, jump over the table and grab a skewer stick before jr pokes his little sister’s eye out? When do I yell “stop!”, gently encourage, or even ask questions like: Okay, buddy, what are you trying to accomplish holding the hammer like that?

Engineering is a mixed process, part is looking outside the box for “impossibilities”, part is jumping back into the box where safety, common sense, and the laws of physics reside. Part faith in fledgling humanity. A bit of firmness when necessary. When to stand back. When to question. When to encourage. When to praise…

It’s not always about the big thing you create, or the new idea that no one has ever thought before. In Leo’s Workshop it’s the thousands of little creations that excite me. In my 60 years I’ve made cool stuff, impressed folks, scared mom, pleased a skeptical mentor, etc. So that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because of the kids of all ages, struggling, succeeding, failing, but always creating something, and taking pride in their successes, no matter how “little” or big. That’s what keeps me going

I was cynical about our future before I worked at The Leo. Not anymore. Not after seeing the excitement behind the “millions” of little gadgets being made. It’s not about what this old guy has made or will make. It’s all about what these new generations are making and will make for years to come