Wozniak on the importance of piquing kids' interests

Tech pioneer Steve Wozniak says fostering personal exploration and creativity in children is paramount to preparing them for a successful future.

Apple founder and tech pioneer Steve Wozniak participated Monday in a San Francisco-based lecture series, The Discovery Forum, which serves to increase awareness about the importance of childhood creativity, and raises support for the Bay Area Discovery Museum's educational exhibitions and programs.

Wozniak, in conversation with TV anchor Dana King, discussed some of the projects he played around with as a child such as wiring circuits and building ham radios. He said he never thought his interest in electronics would lead to a career--his interest was the result of personal curiosity. (He also went off topic for awhile on his Prius problems .)

An important step he learned early in life, Wozniak said, was the capability of doing a long-term project, in excess of 100 hours of work, and finish it to completion. He cites an early Tic-Tac-Toe project he built for a science fair in 12th grade. In the project, he used "cosmetic reject" transistors from Lockheed--where his father worked--to understand the rules of computing and product design steps of a large scale project.

Fostering this sort of personal exploration and creativity in children is paramount, Wozniak says, because "When you're self-taught, your motivation is perfect."

Steve Wozniak spoke at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco Monday, February 1, 2010, reflecting on his childhood learning experiences which helped foster his drive for innovation.
Steve Wozniak spoke at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco Monday, reflecting on his childhood learning experiences, which helped foster his drive for innovation. James Martin/CNET

Wozniak said that growing up, solving puzzles, and finding new and better solutions to problems, was a major impetus in his learning.
Wozniak said that growing up, solving puzzles and finding new and better solutions to problems was a major impetus in his learning. James Martin/CNET

Wozniak said that throughout his career, counterculture rule breakers, misbehavior and explorative personalities have been common traits in the most creative people.
Throughout his career, Wozniak said counterculture rule breakers, misbehavior, and explorative personalities have been common traits in the most creative people. James Martin/CNET

Wozniak said having both the patience and free time as a child allowed him to think through and work out scientific problems.
Wozniak said having both patience and free time as a child allowed him to think through and work out scientific problems. James Martin/CNET
Steve Wozniak speaks with journalist Dana King in San Francisco.
Steve Wozniak speaks with journalist Dana King in San Francisco. James Martin/CNET

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About the author

James Martin is the staff photographer at CNET News, covering the geeks and gadgets of Silicon Valley. When he's not live-blogging the latest product launches from Apple, Google, or Facebook, James can be found exploring NASA, probing robotics labs, and getting behind-the-scenes with some of the Bay Area's most innovative thinkers.

 

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