Earlier this year, my son Ben (13) was getting ready to leave for a four week summercamp in the wilds of Minnesota. Three days before departure, disaster struck: Ben dislocated his left knee and camp was all of a sudden out. Left with four weeks of nothing to do and his siblings and many of his friends away in other places, we asked Ben to come up with some ideas. He said he wanted to build this:
It’s two skateboards connected by hinges and you ride them like water skis, he explained. That actually sounded pretty cool, so off went Ben and Diane to buy parts – two boards, some trucks and wheels, lots of screws, plus door hinges and aluminum door sills to form the connectors. Ben learned how to use the power tools in the barn, and after a few days his idea started to take shape.
Along the way we tried to talk him into some testing and prototyping, but he calmly assured us that it would all work 🙂 After a few more days of drilling and sawing, the pieces came together for the first time:
And then it was time for the first test run. The ride is similar to skateboarding, but you face forward instead of sideways and you steer by leaning left or right:
Ben named his project the Schmobile (the Schneider Mobile). It works really well and we’ve been riding it a bunch – it’s smooth and fun and reminds me of soap box derbies as a kid 🙂 I’m thrilled with the way Ben turned a potentially disheartening moment – a messed up knee in the middle of summer – into a great project and cool new invention (proud dad speaking here), and I hope there are more Schmobiles and related projects in the future!