SparkleLAB is many wonderful things to many different people; so much of a frontier space that it’s difficult to pin down in words, even for our founders. To us who fell in love with it at first sight, SparkleLAB is a co-working space for kids and adults alike who are interested in a collaborative environment for lifelong learning-by-making-and-doing.

Here’s our first-hand encounter with SparkleLAB:

A story that precedes love at first sight. I knew it in that instant because I was born with this gem inside. So, I believe, are we all.

It was a Saturday night early in 2016. I was (uncharacteristically) early for a dinner party at Fern and Karla’s (only because I had spent that afternoon introducing 2 remarkable CEOs to each other). Renee was still en route and even the hosts were still in prep. So I was alone when the 2 Hernandez kids came running in. “Where did you kids come from”, I asked.

That’s when I first heard about Sparklelab. It was one of those “you had me at hello” moments. Kids make their own video games, kids make their own toys, kids make their own animated shorts, kids make their own…Kids dream it, kids design it, kids make it.

That was Saturday night. By the following Wednesday I was at Sparklelab chatting up founder, TEDtalker and mad scientist Rosanna Lopez; by the following Saturday, my son was enrolled, and in the next 4 Saturdays he learned by playing games – all sorts of games, digital, analog, video game, board game, hide and seek; then deconstructing games to reveal a pattern of goals, rules, challenges, mechanisms of action, and then eventually of characters and narratives; and then applying this emergent framework to envision along with his group, their own game, then translate this vision into architecture and design, then actually bring their game to life on the strength of complementary skills and interests, from drawing to programming, from software to hardware, from leadership to problem-solving to just all around good cheer, boys and girls 6 thru 16 working as a team to dream it, design it, make it.

This experience, which I observed and scrutinized at the arms length of a close distance, confirmed what I’d long believed and long longed for: an education space where we TEACH LESS, thereby allowing kids to LEARN MORE and BE more – happier and more successful on their own honest terms. Not the world’s artificial terms and certainly not the rat race too many well-meaning adults (parents and teachers alike) impose as a systematic living and often lifelong hell upon kids.

At Sparklelab, our kids re-learn and re-connect with one of the purest, most beautiful and most powerful gifts we are all born with (in fact, that evolutionarily define our very survival and supremacy at the top of the food chain as homo sapiens): the curiosity and ability for lifelong learning and the propensity to do so with lifelong wonder and joy. It is one of life’s greatest mass tragedies that so many of us lose this ability and joy of learning with each passing year, many never to rediscover it in the stupid, stupid, STUPID rat race of school, grades, resumes, wealth, fame, glory, power (and for many in social media, conformity and group think) and other markers of so-called success, none of which are tied to an honest connection with our life’s purpose or vocation, which is what I believe honest lifelong learning ultimately connects us to, and keeps us connected to.

When kids dream it, design it and make it they learn, not just 21st century Mark Zuckerberg skills, they also learn to be more honest with themselves, what they’re passionate about, why and how; and to respect, learn, draw and build from what others are passionate about.

I love Sparklelab, my kids love Sparklelab, and I guarantee you and yours will too.