“As a child, I wanted to know how things worked and to control them.”
RIP Stephen Hawking.
A scientist that not only managed to change the way we think about the nature of the Universe but someone who smashed head-first into popular culture.
After the countless discoveries, awards, and fame, Hawking spent a large part of his recent life trying to make his passion and wonder for understanding the universe something that everyone could enjoy.
In 2007, he co-wrote a book with his daughter called, ‘George’s Secret Key to the Universe’, it was the first in a trilogy of stories about a young boy whose parents’ aversion to technology pushes him to befriend his neighbor, who – spoiler alert – turns out to be a physicist in possession of the world’s most powerful computer.
The book explains big ideas like black holes and the origin of life in a format that children – and most adults – can better get to grips with. In an interview he gave about the novel, he elaborated a little more on why he wanted to help write it;
“Children ask how things work, what they do, and why. Too often, grownups — who don’t know the answers and don’t want to look silly by admitting they don’t know — tell children that these are stupid questions to ask. It is very important for young people to keep their sense of wonder and keep asking why. I’m a child myself, in the sense that I’m still looking.”
At school, he wasn’t the best student in the world, his teachers often chastising him for messy classwork and bad handwriting. He proclaimed himself as ‘middling’ in secondary school and all out, ‘lazy’ at University, only working one hour a day to get his degree from Oxford.
While Stephen might not have fully enjoyed traditional education, he was passionate about learning.
He would lie on the grass and watch the stars with his mother, learning the names of all the constellations as they drifted past his childhood home in St Albans in Hertfordshire.
During the long Summers holidays with his sister, he would make a game of discovering all the unusual ways they could break into their family home, from tunneling to tree climbing.
At the age of sixteen, he built a fully working computer from spare parts! It’s worth remembering that this was at a time when computers could take up whole rooms!
Stephen was clearly a maker.
He loved taking things apart and trying to find out how they worked – in the end, it was more than a radio or computer, it was the entire universe!
Many of the children at MakerClub share this same drive. The same boundless love of learning that made him the man he was, it’s clearly present when our kids invent new ways to solve the everyday problems around them; when they research solutions to challenges and especially when they are working together as a team.
He once said ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ – we couldn’t agree more.