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An Interview with the Exploratorium’s Adam Tobin, Part 1

The Exploratorium's Adam Tobin talks about growing up as a child-inventor, the Exploratorium workflow, and the challenges of summoning an "ah-ha!" moment on a deadline.

Adam TobinDan Brodnitz: Do you remember your first invention?

Adam Tobin: I started as an electronics tinkerer. I made a burglar alarm to keep my sister out of my room. I took an old car radio that had been abandoned from one of the old family cars and got inside it and wired up quadraphonic sound in my bedroom. I began making wooden toys when I was young as well, like whirligig and rolling marble toys.

DB: Were you raised in a family of inventors, or was it something you got into on your own?

AT: I don’t know where it came from. My father can’t pick up a hammer…. For some reason, with me, I was just a tinkerer from the get-go.

DB: How did your parents respond?

AT: They encouraged it — it meant that things around the house might get fixed that otherwise wouldn’t. I remember I was seven or eight years old and somehow I was the only one in the house that could fix our stove.

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