I’ll always look back
As I walk away
Will last for eternity
But until that day
You know you are
The queen of my heart
- Queen of my heart, a song by the awesome band, Westlife
I grew up listening to the awesome band, Westlife not because I was into the music. I am not a fan of slow music. I like music with a mad drummer exorcising his drums, a seemingly possessed musician screaming barely audible lyrics, chaos everywhere and guitars playing rock so hard that you would think that the gates of hell would burst open in a few seconds. Yes I love hard rock / heavy metal. But most people don’t like this type of music so I was forced to find alternative music to listen to and I fell in love with Westlife. This song reminds me of my childhood, and more importantly, my first love.
I remember her as if it was yesterday. The first day her name was mentioned to me, I immediately fell in love with her. She could only be found in libraries so I would follow her there. She was so beautiful and I would dream about her. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about science & technology. I was so excited by the developments in science & technology that revolutionized the planet. Each time I went to libraries, I would read about the legends – Einstein, Newton and other famous scientists. I would bring back books about these guys and instead of reading hogwash novels, I spent the greater part of my childhood focusing on these people.
Grade six arrived and this marked the biggest leap in my life. I got an electric motor – a tiny 5V electric motor that probably came from an old DVD player. You see, back then these propellers (that’s what we called them) were very, very valuable. I remember that you would have to trade very many bottle tops for just one of these propellers. I know that a few are now confused why bottle tops were valuable. Let’s have a short detour.
Kodos (Pronounced Core-Doors)
This is a game in which you dig a tiny hole (about 3cm deep and 8cm in diameter) in the ground. You draw a line about 10 steps away from the tiny hole and a person draws a line in the sand. You all stand behind that line and throw your bottle tops towards the hole. The objective of the game is to get the bottle top into the hole. Soon after you throw your bottle tops, you use your hands to flick the bottle top towards the hole and each person playing flicks once and waits for the others to do so and this continues until theres someone who gets their bottle top into the hole. As you can imagine, the game will be played with you squatting or kneeling (if you don’t mind looking like a ghost after a few minutes). Humans naturally love customizing their stuff so we would take empty bags of chips, cut out faces on the chips (back then there were chips with famous WWE wrestlers) and nicely put them into the bottle tops and they would look quite nice.
Now back to our story. I wanted a propeller, and after getting a few bottle tops with John Cena’s face (these were super valuable because chips with his face were hard to find and the basic laws of supply and demand inflated their value), I got mine. I connected a battery to it and it came to life. I was super excited. I spent days dreaming about creating flying machines and becoming a renowned scientist because of this mega achievement. This propeller resembled what I loved about science – how I could use the exact same laws to generate the exact same results. I went to high school and got the best science teacher a person could ever ask for. I still remember the first lesson – walking into Lab One, writing notes and being told to draw a beaker that went down by five lines (length) and had a width of 4 centimeters. We went through a few lab rules and the next week we started doing experiments. The teacher had a wealth of experience and her lessons were amazing. The practicals really excited me and so did the tests. They tested our knowledge and did not feel like pointless cramming exercises that I had later on in my life. She was the reason why I became the best science student across 4 streams for 2 consecutive years and won 2 prizes for that. I was drawn by how practical science and technology is.
Trouble in Paradise
A few years later, everything changed. I sill had really, really amazing teachers but the curriculum was completely different. The curriculum no longer encouraged learning but instead promoted memorizing pointless information. My love for science steadily declined and I became an average student. The information continued to become more and more useless and there became fewer and fewer applications of the information. I eventually got to a point where I knew very many things such as: eigen values and eigen vectors, the definition of the mole, the S, P, D and F orbitals, the meaning of the word pedagogy,… the list is endless. Science and tech slowly became irrelevant to me.
It was around 12 and I was bored. I was rather broke and needed money. I had been following a few job posts online but it turned out to be a waste of time. I bumped into an advert looking for a freelance tech writer and applied with great speed. It took me less than 30 minutes to create a 500 word draft, send my CV + my cover letter. I hit send and went to sleep. After waking up I was informed that I was shortlisted and quickly got my first gig. After working for a few weeks I had learnt more about basic houses hold tech items than school had ever taught me. It was exciting to be given random topics about things loosely tech related e.g. dog collars with GPS and having to come up with a 5000 word article about that. Yep 5000 words. You saw that right. I would manage to finish 5 such articles per week, and I found it quite interesting. My love for tech started to slowly came back. After bumping into some guy on YouTube – Louis Rossmann, that passion immediately came back. I remembered why I watched science shows for hours on end. I remembered why I loved that strict lady’s science classes. I remembered why I loved having my first propeller. It was because it was all practical. School teaches us a lot of nonsense and rarely teaches us practical stuff that we can actually use.
Now that the passion is back, I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do – to learn how to make stuff. I plan on getting a cable for my Arduino and will start making crazy projects, making spectacular short circuit shows a.k.a. burning stuff and using propellers to do amazing things like turning a fan round and round and round.
And that brings us to the end of today’s article. Tell us, what passion did you have when you were a kid and what happened to it?
P.S. Don't forget to follow me on twitter @maputiatota