Young achiever crafts violins and much more

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- In the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the wizard Gandalf delivers the line, "I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay -- simple acts of kindness and love."

It's a favorite quote of this week's Fox 4 Young Achiever -- a maker, a crafter, a doer of both amazing creative work and good deeds. Meet the incomparable Bronwyn McNaughton.

"When my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, when I was like seven, my response was, "mad scientist."

Bronwyn McNaughton recalled that fondly with a big smile and a laugh. There are a lot of adjectives Bronwyn has to describe herself -- including curious and a little weird and nerdy. But those who know her well say mostly she is brilliant, inquisitive, self-motivated and constantly searching out ways to do things that interest her. And that's a lot of things.

"A very original thinker but also a practical thinker."

That's one of the many insights about Bronwyn that Jon Durham shared with Fox 4. Durham directs Bronwyn in the very demanding International Baccalaureate honors diploma program at Shawnee Mission North High School where Bronwyn is a top scholar in the senior class and a national merit semifinalist. And she's an essential member of North High's robotics team.

"You can just see the excitement she gets from learning," said Durham. "And then she tends to take it to another level of not only learning and understanding something but then doing, learning by doing. And has a wonderful way of utilizing both her hands and her intellect on those projects that she, that she challenges herself with."

Take Bronwyn's hand-crafted violin, for instance. Bronwyn is a fine musician who plays in advanced musical groups at North High. When she found plans on how to make a violin on an open source website, Bronwyn decided to construct her own.

"As soon as I saw the pattern, I was like, I have access to all these tools and it's actually really simple with all these tools so it's pretty easy," said Bronwyn. "And if you have the means to do something and you want to, why not?"

Bronwyn's making a second violin now with some design changes that she'll publish on the open source site.

"I think I have a good mix of finding out what I want to do and being able to go out and do it pretty well," says Bronwyn. Bronwyn does her violin designing and construction at Hammerspace, a hobby and community workshop in the Brookside district of Kansas City, Mo.

Hammerspace is home to many of the Kansas City region's makers, crafters and inventors.

"A giant, slightly dangerous toy factory," Bronwyn calls it, again with a big smile. Bronwyn is thrilled to be in this environment that encourages her to make, create and craft -- like making very odd stuffed characters -- plushies -- or mastering the art of origami, paper sculptures which she hands out to friends and strangers at school to brighten their day.

As an introvert, this is quite a big step out of her comfort zone for Bronwyn. But it is one of many ways -- small and big -- that she uses her creativity, her intellect and her abilities to help others.

"And it makes me happy seeing them happy," said Bronwyn. "So it's a win-win situation for me."

A deep thinker and deep doer of little things and big things -- simple and not-so-simple acts of kindness and love -- and brilliance.

Bronwyn has become a regular at Maker Faire Kansas City. That's an annual event that celebrates the things people create themselves. Bronwyn intends to become a biochemical and/or biomechanical engineer so she can make medicines and develop treatments to help people get and stay healthy.

Fox 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.