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K’NEX: What is your first memory of playing with K’NEX?
Jonathan: Actually, I think I was a bit old school. ;). The first time I remember playing with K’NEX was when I got a K’NEX toy as part of a meal or other promotion at Pizza Hut Restaurants. LOL! After that, I must have either expressed interest to family, or gotten more involved myself. But once I got going, the rest was history.
K’NEX: What's your favorite thing you've ever built with K'NEX?
Jonathan: Undoubtedly, I believe that would be the K’NEX Roller Coasters. My mom purchased the original K’NEX roller coaster for me, which I probably had to grow into a bit. But once I did, it was the starting point for a significant success point in my life.
K’NEX: What skills did you learn/strengthen by building with K'NEX (problem solving, critical thinking, innovation)?
Jonathan: K’NEX helped me learn to think outside the box. At a middle school age, the box might have been putting pieces together so that the model worked. At a more recent point in my life, it might have been looking at the model as a whole and seeing it as a streamlined piece of creativity and innovation.
K’NEX: How have these skills translated into your life outside of building with K'NEX?
Jonathan: I think that, again, at varying stages in my life, K’NEX had different effects on me. In middle school, it indirectly provided an avenue for success and recognition-which may have unknowingly helped encourage me that work can pay off. In more recent times, building a K’NEX roller coaster to display for kids at a church event helped me step out into a more public venue of creativity.
K’NEX: What other interests do you have, besides building large models with K'NEX?
Jonathan:Currently I play french horn in my local church orchestra, and enjoy recording piano/vocal music on my computer. I also help to take care of my 92 year-old grandmother, who lives with us. This is a more serious task, because it necessitates considerable focus and energy on my part. It also requires a depth of knowledge I have had to gain through hands-on experience; like hospital trips and CPR/First Aid certification.
K’NEX: What is your biggest success this far in building with K'NEX? In your life?
Jonathan: : As it happens, 'big' in my case, had a slightly different meaning. In 8th grade, for a science fair project, I came up with a theme revolving around the testing of an aspect of the roller coaster loop. Unfortunately, as of writing this article, I cannot place my hands on the actual notebook I submitted. But it was something like that. Toward this end, I built a more simplified (but perhaps taller than original K’NEX roller coaster) track with a downhill slope. I also may have included a slightly larger loop. This project eventually won me first place in the Physics Junior Division at the Palm Beach County Science and Engineering Fair. Later, this project would win 2nd place at the 46th State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida held in Fort Myers that year. It would also qualify me for the Discovery Young Scientist's Challenge.
K’NEX: Tell us about your biggest build. How large was it? How many pieces did you use? How long did it take you to build it? Why did you decide to build it?
Jonathan: I would say as far as theoretical custom builds go, the middle school science fair "coaster" that I constructed was probably one of my larger ones. If I remember right, it was over 5 feet tall. As far as pieces, unfortunately I didn't tabulate that amount-since my intent in middle school was to build this for a science fair project. In reference to the time, it probably took a few days to a week on-and-off..I am not sure. If I remember right, one of the issues I ran into was in the modification of the loop to increase its size. In doing this, I may have changed the height requirement necessary to allow the card to complete the loop. I think I just kept adding track at the top until I was attaining completed loops.
K’NEX: Do you have other huge builds planned for the near future? What are they?
Jonathan:Not at the moment. But building with K’NEX is certainly fun. Maybe I will think up something for the future at some point. In reference to the previously mentioned church event, I built the barrel-looping version of the original Rippin' Rocket Roller Coaster, along with a handful of other theme park-style rides I got the designs for off the K’NEX website. By putting them all together, I was able to create a 'theme park' theme which was the back drop for passing out Halloween candy in 2013.
K’NEX: What inspires you?
Jonathan:: My mom certainly. She works very hard to keep our family running. Taking on the responsibility to pay for/oversee care for an elderly family member-whilst also working two jobs (one full-time as a teacher) is certainly an achievement worth noting. I am adopted, and without her generosity-it stands to reason that I might not be here writing this article today. She has helped me throughout my life, and for that I am very grateful.
K’NEX: What other future goals do you have for yourself?
Jonathan: : A future goal might be to eventually go back to school. In 2009, I finished a bachelor's degree in Commercial piano, but have not yet started a more advanced degree. I also might enjoy recording an entire album of self written songs.
K’NEX: Do you have any advice for parents of K'NEX builders?
Jonathan:I know this probably sounds strange coming from someone who probably didn't pay for many (if any) of my owned K’NEX sets. But to me, K’NEX was worth the expense. Building things like the science fair roller coaster may have been possible with just one large K’NEX set. But I would imagine in other cases, it helps to have spare parts lying around-like when I built the theme-park style construction for my church event. Being able to reuse parts from other sets to build new things was certainly helpful. On a different note, it also encourages task completion and creativity. For me, I occasionally like to build something (by design instructions or perhaps not) to see if I can.