Smash, Bang, Pow!

LizaBy: Liza Blair
Arts Manager

Something happened in my son around age three that dramatically changed the way he interacts with the world. He developed an overwhelming enthusiasm for destroying block towers and disassembling anything built.

No longer was he content with building and admiring his handy work. No, not any more. The real fun was smashing his masterpiece into tiny pieces. With one swift swing, a 30-piece, tall Lego tower would be nothing more than a few dozen blocks on the floor.

2012 Spring and Summer 178

Smash Art, 2012

I wasn’t concerned. On a developmental level, young children experience the need to destroy as part of the learning process. It helps develop fine and gross motor skills, sharpen visual acuity and sensory perception, and define spatial recognition. Plus, it’s fun! Which made me wonder: why is tinkering so appealing to young children? And why is it so appealing to adults, too?

Maybe the simple act of taking apart and recreating feeds an internal need to know more about how things work. Taking control and learning the mechanics of how something works is an important part of fostering a creative mind. It’s about learning from mistakes through experimentation and innovation.

That’s one reason why we offer Smash Art, a two-hour tinkering workshop for children and families. Children spend one hour taking apart old electronics and another hour fastening them into different forms: play cell phones, robots, iPods, etc.

The next Smash Art session will happen this Saturday, May 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. While reservations are not required, the workshop usually fills up pretty fast. It is included with paid admission to the Museum.

For more information, visit our website:

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