Inspect your own gadgets at the St. Louis Science Center

Some genius theorized that there's one great novel lurking in every human being. As terrifying as that thought is, consider that it's far more likely that there's a unique (or at least ultra-badass) invention swirling around in the dust-bunnied windmills of your mind.

It's true. Humanity is a race of tool-users and tinkerers. Our brains are hardwired to dream of a better mousetrap. Or a flying mousetrap. Or a mousetrap with stealth capabilities, and it only becomes visible once the mouse has tripped the infrared detection beam, and the tiny electronic attack dogs have been launched from the front of the trap!

But we get ahead of ourselves. Before you build your Wee Dobermatic Ninja Mouser (patent pending), you need to design it and test it. And you know less about designing mousetraps than you do about building them. What about rigging up a tiny metal dog with laser-targeting eyes? There's some serious science involved here -- where can you go for help?

Why, to the St. Louis Science Center, of course. The SLSC's new Gadget Lab exhibit offers science tips galore for the budding young inventor (or the much-older mad-scientist types), as well as the necessary materials to conceive, design, build and test your object d'science. SLSC staffers will show junior inventors the basics of product conception and design, and the Gadget Lab is rife with the raw materials necessary for construction (everything from wood to batteries).

In the testing area, you'll taste sweet success immediately... or choke on bitter failure. If the latter is the outcome, the Gadget Lab staff helps you work through your troubles with probing questions and thoughtful critique. They have the technology -- you can rebuild it, better, faster and stronger. As long as no one builds a piezo-electronically powered suit of mouse-size armor, you're golden.