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Feature on Toys

Page history last edited by Tiller, Joel 10 years, 10 months ago

By: Joel Tiller


It’s only been a matter of minutes since you’ve rolled out of bed and already the kids are dressed, their lunches are packed, and that second cup of coffee - the one you’ve come to rely on to carry you through to your first break - is seconds from hitting your lips.


For once, you may just make it to work awake and on time. Just a quick shower and you’ll be on your way.


But wait.


Remember, last night, when you caught your five-year-old tinkering with your hair dryer and, because he was quiet and looking strangely captivated by what he was doing, you thought nothing of it?


Well, your flawless morning has just taken an unfortunate turn for the worst. What was once a fully-functioning hair dryer is now in a million indiscernible pieces.


“I wanted to know how the thing worked,” laughs Darin White, looking back on the now infamous incident.


When when he took the hair dryer apart and hooked the motor up to a battery he was blown away by what he saw, he says.


"I could actually see the different components moving," he remembers. "It was absolutely amazing."


These days White works as a security product manager at RIM and is the acting director of Kwartzlab – a hackerspace located in Kitchener Ont. where like-minded individuals pool their knowledge and creativity in order to see the projects they have been dreaming about come to life. 


When he wasn’t deconstructing appliances around his parent’s house as a child he was building and creating with Lego or his 150 in One: Electronic Project Kit from Radio Shack, remembers White.


His curiosity for how things work has led him to where he is today, and he admits a lot of what he worked on as a child was purely trial and error.


“I never really had anyone explain to me exactly how things worked,” says White.


“And, that’s exactly what I am doing now with people young and old at Kwartzlab. I kind of boot strap them into a project where they know all the little intricacies of the projects they’re working on.”


Like White, Mark Pavlidis, a software developer and consultant for Pavlidis Consulting, grew up with an insatiable desire to know how things worked.


“It was just a natural tendency to deconstruct things and learn as much as I could about how my toys worked so I could eventually build my own,” says Pavlidis.


On Christmas morning, when most kids are busy playing with their new toys, Pavlidis remembers reading manuals from front to back so he could know how his new toys worked.


“As a child I used to call them ‘constructions’ instead of instructions,” says Pavlidis.


“For as long as I can remember this curiosity has been ingrained in me … and I continue to build upon it in whatever I do.” 






David J. Perdue is a lego enthusiast. He's written two books during his 22 years on this planet. Perdue is finishing up his last year at Liberty University in Lynchburg Virginia. 


Kwartzlab is a collective or 'hackerspace' in Kitchener Ont. where do-it-yourselfers can share their passion for everything from circuitry and robotics to jewelery and costume-making.


A great reference for understanding what 'MakerCulture' and the DIY philosophy is all about. Follow the 15 links located throughout the page and enjoy your MakerCulture journey. 


The Canadian Design Resource is a blog where 'Makers' from around Canada post their latest creations.  


Instructables is a web-based collective where 'Makers' from around the world share, learn and collaborate with each other. Instructables originated, and germinated, in the MIT Media Lab.

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