My 13-year-old son wasn’t engaged in online learning, but rebuilding an engine in the garage let him discover his “ferocious force.”

The morning after the governor of Wisconsin shut down schools in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19, my 13-year-old son, Hayden, gave himself a project. He would watch, in order of their release, every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Starting with “Iron Man,” he worked his way through nearly two dozen movies in all. He finished in four and a half days.

The way he saw it, the only substantive difference between his life and that of Tony Stark — Robert Downey Jr.’s character in “Iron Man” — was an access to resources. A youth spent tinkering with Cold War military technology had prepared Tony to engineer his electromagnetic heart and flying armored suit. Hayden felt certain a similar opportunity would unlock his own genius.