Lansing’s future generation of pinball wizards visited the Grid Arcade & Bar, and got an inside look at the vintage mechanisms, circuitry and the mile worth of wire powering the Paragon pinball machine from 1977.

As part of Impression 5’s Think Tank Camp on pinball and arcades, nine to 14-year-old children got the opportunity to ask a pinball mechanic questions and acquire inspiration, before returning to build their own pinball machines at Impression 5’s maker space.


“Children have a huge interest in games in general. It is something they love doing,” said Nik McPherson, Impression 5 Think Tank camp innovator. “Pinball and arcade games specifically have a lot of really cool applications for some of the harder electricity and physics concepts.”


Making pinball machines is part of Impression 5’s new maker space for children 9 and older, said McPherson.


“They get to actually practice hands on with science and engineering and take home a souvenir. It drives home the play, create, challenge mantra of Impression 5.”


Partnering with Impression 5 to teach children is important, said Grid Arcade & Bar’s co-owner Callie Mykut.


“It’s important for us to be involved in the community. It’s education from a mechanical and engineering standpoint — it’s cool to see the children connect the dots, and see it in real life on a larger scale,” said Mykut.

Despite gaming being on phones, computers, consoles and other devices, Mykut said that she doesn’t see the thrill of arcades eroding. “There is something about the joysticks, the screens and nostalgia for every generation we cater to.”

Starting small with a shoebox and clothespins pinball machine, McPherson said this group of children are now well on their way to making a larger and more real machine.


“They’re actually practicing making the shooters out of springs and bolts. They're practicing with some circuitry to light them up,” said McPherson.


“It’s a big enough surface area for them to theme their board, and practice all the different areas of pinball machine design. Everything from the theme, to all of the physical aspects.”


For more information: visit Impression 5's website.