I couldn’t agree more, Hank.
I was lucky enough to join Hank and everyone else at the YouTube EDU summit this year, and getting to go to the Exploratorium, my favorite place on Earth?! Wow, that was just icing on the cake! I lived in San Francisco this summer and went 7 times … I have a problem. I even make it in the edge of this video around 1:27, so that’s cool.
I’ve been thinking about what the Exploratorium represents. I’ve heard it described it as a “playground for education”, an “amusement park for the mind” or, as I call it, “Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory after a hostile takeover by Mr. Wizard”. That imagery invokes youth, childhood, purity, innocence, wonder, fun. We speak of it with adult tongues wired to the minds of children.
It seems to me that places like this let us adults recapture some piece of the past that we have lost, or set aside. We walk alongside true children, miniature avatars of our former selves, tinkering, figuring out how things work, or sometimes remembering that we already knew how they worked, but since forgot. We inject discovery in our veins, we inhale euphoric clouds of curiosity and we gulp down intoxicating cupfuls of yes, wow, that’s how that works! … existing in a wonderful state of mind that says we are moving towards some better place, some higher plane, just by knowing more.
What if we didn’t have to re-discover it? I mean, where in our lives did we allow it to whither and fade? Was it our first job? The 457th time our alarm clock went off in the dark? 8 AM organic chemistry during our freshman year?
What if we never let that flame fade to an ember? What if we never hid it away, devoid of tinder? What cold night’s fire for a future winter are we saving it for? What if we just fed it and let it burn? We could build a camp around it, we could find comfort in its glow, we could invite our friends to sit with us and come out of the cold. Maybe if we were curious forever.
Oh think, how happy we’d be. That’s what these places are for. These places: the Exploratorium, science on YouTube, science online. Maybe that’s why we do what we do. We’re the pyromaniacs of curiosity. I think it’s getting warmer.