I grew up on a busy street in a suburb of Chicago. On hot days, you could smell the pavement melting – sulfurous, tarry, goopy. Being that power lines intersected on our corner, the hum and rattle of construction equipment was ever-present in my summers. The perfect opportunity for a child to bask in air conditioning or run through the sprinklers, right?
Not for me. When other kids were swiping Fla-Vor-Ice from the freezer and vegging out in front of cartoons, I was opening a lemonade stand with my sister. We saw a business opportunity – close to 100 degree heat + thirsty construction workers – and sold our lemonade for 25¢. We eventually made enough (I think it was about $10, a big amount for a kid) to buy a Velcro ball toss toy.
That entrepreneurial spirit has fueled a lot of what I have done in life. The thrill I get of creating something from nothing, of doing a lot with a little: this is what makes me perfect for my work at the Lemelson Center. Most recently, I invented a pop-up museum model by thinking through what resources I had at hand and what I wanted to do: a bus pass, scratch paper, and free space at a local library + create conversation and build community. Now other museums, nationally and internationally, are picking up my technique and creating their own pop-up museums.
Personally, I aspire to make a substantial contribution to the global community through invention and innovation. As the new Spark!Lab National Network Coordinator, I am excited about having the opportunity to support young people in their own inventive exploration. Check back to see the Spark!Lab National Network grow; hopefully we’ll be coming to your neck of the woods soon.