KEVA Queen

I’m not actually a KEVA Queen. I’m merely a runner-up.

What did you do for your work today? Maybe changed diapers, went to an office, taught some kids, cleaned a house? I played with blocks.

Except that since we are grown-ups, we called it designing and constructing with KEVA planks at miSci.


No, you guys. I didn’t make any of these. Those were samples on exhibit, to inspire us all to creative genius. But the most inspiring thing is that there are lots and lots of blocks planks. Like, thousands, available in big ol’ bins.


Let me back up a bit. Delightful Susan called me from miSci (and I say that Susan is delightful because she’s one of the few people who consistently reads through the KidsOutAndAbout newsletter and thanks me when I give miSci a plug, which is often, because I like thank-you emails). She called to invite me to a Media Challenge. This sort of thing always makes me a little wary, actually, because at these media events, I end up with local celebrities (like Bob Kovachick, today) as well as small groups of people who work together constantly and appear to be BFFs. . . and then there is me, lonely little me, the chick who has quickly changed out of her pajama bottoms but not actually showered because she was just alone at home typing on the computer about five minutes before leaving the house. It can be a little intimidating. But I’m a Schenectady booster and a fan of miSci and, most compelling, they were offering to drop off a set of KEVA planks for training purposes. Free stuff? Yes, please!

So the KEVA planks arrived and the girls had a great time playing around with them, but I hadn’t actually touched them. Cute W noticed this and said, “Aren’t you going to try?” I mumbled something about it all just being for fun, and he chided, “If you’re not in it to win it, why are you even going?” I laughed at him, but when my computer froze up this morning in sheer exhaustion from putting together the newsletter, I decided to take a 15-minute break to mess around with the planks while continuing to binge watch The Fosters (some of that newsletter prep is mindless, people, so stop judging!). I came up with a plan and then, because I am just this much of a freak, I packed up the planks on the off chance that someone would demand their return.

When I arrived, the media folks and miSci staff were milling about, and I was assigned a space on the floor and a bin of blocks. Susan offered to hook me up with a partner because I was the only person alone, but I said no thank you. Really I was thinking that I had my strategy and I didn’t want to negotiate or make small talk, but I put on a show that my victory would be all the more remarkable when I did it without any help.

We had ten minutes to build the tallest tower possible. Right from the beginning I had photographers snapping pictures like crazy. I realized later that it was because newspaper folks didn’t want to take pictures of themselves or their chief rivals, so apparently they looked around and said, “Who looks like the most regular, non-media person here?” and then they all swarmed. Or so it felt. I wasn’t entirely sure because I was in the Plank Zone.

At the halfway point, I was way, way ahead. Like, shockingly ahead. I’m not sure why, because I was too busy laying planks. When they announced that I was ahead I shouted out that I was all alone, because I am not above trying to maintain my underdog status. A minute or two later a very nice older man started handing me planks so that I wouldn’t have to move from bin to tower-top. At this point, the tower was at least chest high, and it was starting to get a bit rickety. “Add some cross planks,” the nice older man advised. “A little extra weight will help with stability.” It sounded like good advice, and so I did what he said. He wandered away, and a few moments later, I had a small collapse, but luckily the tower remained intact from that stabilizing level on down. “Thank you, sir, for the advice!” I called out, without any clear notion of where the man was (again, I was in the Plank Zone). “Who was he?” I asked out loud. “Neil Golub,” someone answered. Of course he was. He was an able assistant and advisor, and I’d be happy to play with blocks with him any day. Incidentally, he and his lovely wife Jane brought the exhibition to miSci.

At this point, it was a race to the finish. Several towers had tumbled with dramatic wooden clatters. I had gone from being way ahead of everyone to being just a little bit ahead of one team, from the Daily Gazette. And they were a three-person team, gaining on me fast, but time was running out. “Just stop there, you’ve got it,” folks advised. But did I listen? Nooooooo. Instead, in the final countdown, I tried to place one plank vertically to ensure my lead, and the upper section of the tower collapsed in the final seconds.

Oh, the heartbreak, especially when I saw the fabulous KEVA plank trophy hoisted up by the winning team.

Still, it’s not a bad day of work.

Katie with Keva Plank Tower-001

You can go and build like crazy, too. And for more motivation, see my Review of “EARTH EXPOSED: Discover Our Planet’s Hidden Secrets” at miSci. This exhibits still running, so you can build and destroy a skyscraper and disrupt a tornado in the same visit. How’s that for powerful??

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