After returning from an incredible, fun-filled trip to set-up and help kick off the first international Spark!Lab in Kyiv, Ukraine, I returned to Washington, D.C., just in time to pack up and move the last boxes of Spark!Lab supplies and equipment. We had to clear out before demolition crews arrived to tear down the original exhibition to make way for the new one. Part of me was ready to celebrate. The other part…the sentimental part…wondered if I would be able to survive without Spark!Lab until the opening of Spark!Lab 2.0 in 2015. I decided to take one last contemplative stroll through the old exhibition. As I surveyed the space formerly known as Spark!Lab, devoid of its brightly colored purple, green, and orange-hued optimism, it occurred to me that the thing I will miss most is the steady flow of inspiration, creative uses of materials, hilarious kid logic, and out-of-the-box ideas the staff and I received from visitors on a daily basis. While I thought some quiet time without Spark!Lab might make it easier to think, I’m actually finding it harder to be creative without the 110-decibel swarm of enthusiastic young inventors busy sketching, creating, trying, and tweaking their inventions around me. At some point, Spark!Lab transitioned from innovative museum exhibition into a real community of invention.
As we move forward developing and prototyping Spark!Lab 2.0, I realize that one of the most important concepts to carry over from the original Spark!Lab can’t be found in a box in storage. It is the simultaneous exchange of inspiration between and among Spark!Lab visitors and staff, the freedom to fail gloriously before reaching success, and the sense of community unique to the Spark!Lab experience. While this magical Spark!Lab experience is not something that can easily be replicated by a formula or recipe, we’ll make sure to bring it to Spark!Lab 2.0. Prepare to inspire, and prepare to be inspired.