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Thursday, February 17, 2005


Cool People In Your Own Backyard

It's really cool to run into exciting, interesting people in your own neighborhood. The other day, I noticed a new shop opened in the same shopping center as my Starbucks-home. The name of the store is the Curiosity Zone and with a name like that, who wouldn't get curious and want to look around inside.

Turns out that this shop is devoted to curious kids and us adults who still have the curious kid inside. It's described as "a state-of-the-art science and tech enrichment center for kids ages 1-12. It is a place where kids can go to think, invent, create, explore and learn, learn, learn." Neat, huh? The shop sells neat science-fair kind of stuff, but even better, it has a kid-sized classroom/laboratory where they host hands-on group lessons and birthday parties.

As a dad of two daughters (as well as a bit of an amateur science geek), I was hooked so I found the owner and talked with her for a bit. Mary Porter's story shows just how powerful a dream can be when it comes to living a life worth living (check out her bio - what's cute is the "then" and "now" pictures). She's a former lawyer who had talent and brilliance in that profession, but yearned for something else. From her bio:
But what does growing up to be a corporate lawyer have to do with being a kid scientist/ engineer/inventor? Well, not a whole lot. And that’s kind of my point. It wasn’t until life unexpectedly took me to Seattle and to a startup Internet company that went crazy and went public in a blast of innovation that I finally started to get it. It was like a million of those fireflies glowing at full wattage. I was supposed to be creating and inventing stuff.
And so here I am. It took me a while, but I finally got here. I devoted the last couple of years to studying, playing, brainstorming and creating with some pretty amazing kids, parents and teachers. The result is the Curiosity Zone -- a place I wish I’d had as a kid, and a place all of the wonderful kids in my life today are proud to have helped invent. It's a place where kids can go to let their curiosity fly; where they can think, invent, create, explore and learn, learn, learn!
I have to admit her personality is engaging, her vision is exciting, and her passion is contagious. Listening to her speak with such enthusiasm for growing her business and inspiring children's curiosity, I'm already thinking about how I can help her. And she wouldn't have to pay me a dime. I would do it because I believe in what she's trying to build.

Folks, if you live in the Washington, DC area, come out to Ashburn, VA and visit Mary's store. Bring your kids and your curiosity. And even if you can't visit, you can still build a version of the Curiosity Zone in your life and make a place where you can "think, invent, create, explore and learn, learn, learn!"

Categories: c.Careers; c.Creativity; c.Play

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