One of the items that perplexed me the most was a box of light bulbs for various makes and models of projectors. There were dozens of different kinds; of all sorts of unique shapes and sizes. As I opened the packages to see their variety, I notice that they all were still perfectly preserved in their corrugated casings. Not owning any of the projectors any longer, my first instinct was to pitch the bulbs. For some reason I didn't do that. I put them in a big box and labeled them: light bulbs.
They sat in that box those first couple of years. Finally, one summer in the third year of my tenure, I was re-organizing the shelves and opened the box and saw these beautiful packages and glass orbs inside once again. I knew I needed to do something with them, so I took them up to the library, took them out of their packaging and sorted them by size and shape. The packages themselves were too cool not to keep. So, I saved one of each type and found a neat way to share them. I love the colors and images on the boxes!
It turned out that I had doubles of nearly all of them and I liked the arrangement I had made. So, I bought some super heavy duty glue and created a display of the old bulbs. That display hung in our computer lab along with several displays of antiquated technology. To be honest, I don't think anyone ever gave them a second thought.
Then, over the past six months, our school decided to create our version of a makerspace. We wanted a unique name and so we came up with the term IDEA Lab. We are hoping that this year the students will help us come up with what the acronym IDEA stands for. For now, the light bulb metaphor works. That eureka moment, symbolized by the light bulb glowing over a person's head, seems to fit pretty well.
That's why I decided to buy the large light bulb to hang in the IDEA Lab. I hope that the projects we attempt here open student's minds to new and different avenues of exploration and thinking. To this end, I thought I would share five lessons I learned from the box of light bulbs.
Lesson #1: If you only do one thing, even if you do it really, really well, you might end up on a shelf for a quarter century: diversify. Try and do lots of things.
Lesson #2: It takes all shapes and sizes to accomplish the same basic task.
Lesson #3: Despite the size, each of the bulbs brought light. People are much the same. We may project a little more light than others or connect in a unique way, but we all have the potential to provide light.
Lesson #4: Protect yourself. Insulate yourself from extremes, and you will probably last to a ripe old age.