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Multiple readers have pointed out this recent news item concerning an 11-year old student in San Diego who became the center of a police investigation after bringing his homemade motion sensor to school. Quite frankly, I found it completely heartbreaking.

Like all regrettable incidents, there were of course variables and circumstances at play which we may never fully understand. Instead of responding with bitterness and finger-pointing, I’d like to direct responsive energy into something more constructive by attempting to answer the question; What can we at MAKE & also the greater DIY community do to help inform the public’s understanding of what we do? Particularly, in respect to DIY electronics projects and similar mediums which seem at risk for misinterpretation. Please share any helpful ideas you might have, large or small, by leaving a comment below.

Collin Cunningham

Born, drew a lot, made video, made music on 4-track, then computer, more songwriting, met future wife, went to art school for video major, made websites, toured in a band, worked as web media tech, discovered electronics, taught myself electronics, blogged about DIY electronics, made web videos about electronics and made music for them … and I still do!


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Comments

  1. Dave W says:

    I think one of the biggest problems is that schools no longer seem to have after-school electronics clubs. Can we, as a community, do something to support the reintroduction of these valuable opportunities for tinkering? My old school has closed its electronics department recently, because the teacher retired. Without a club, I feel that most school students won’t be confident enough to admit to making electronic circuits,in case they’re considered a “terrorist threat” or something equally ridiculous by people who should know better.

  2. david says:

    As the Aqua Teen Hunger Force palava in Boston proved, the general public seems to have a pathological fear of electronic circuits. I’m not sure if it’s too much time watching bad action movies (those bad guys never seem to put any of their circuits into enclosures! I guess when you crave world domination you just never have the time) but most of these people seem completely unaware of the massive amount of electronics around them at all times. They see some wires and a circuit board and a battery and don’t think ‘ah, an interesting project’ or ‘the guts of my radio!’ they just think ‘bomb’, immediately. It’s like we need to educate people not about even what we’re doing, or how to do it, but just that wires and batteries are totally normal and mundane and everywhere and not a threat.

    As the comment above said, clubs for kids to do stuff is a great idea, but when those kids take their new noise circuit or motion sensor or radio to show their parents, they still have to run the gauntlet of the general public and their irrational, paranoid fears.

  3. Alfredo Jara says:

    Come on! I’ve never seen anything so absurd such as this story (besides the little boy that kissed a girl at school and was expelled, and later on reinstated). Is so hard to see kids interested in anything else besides TV and games, and when one does, is taken for a terrorist!!!
    I guess that making electronics as simple (to understand) as playing with legos or a “the sims” games would make the public more prone to see something electronic as “not a bomb” or “not a taser”…

  4. Vincent Kolosowski says:

    According to the article the school specialises in technology. Maybe the vice-principals need some educating too!

    One of the problems seems to be that there are not that many people interested in making stuff compared to those that would rather just consume it. I could see why schools wouldn’t run these clubs for one or two pupils only. Perhaps some kind of distributed/open source style project is the way to go? Based on something with an environmental theme, global warming for example. Some could build their own weather stations, some use off the shelf and others just read from thermometers and type the data in. Uploading this to a website would allow schools all round the world could see their results and compare to others. Maths, geography, physics etc could all have curriculum links to this so it wouldn’t just remain the preserve of a few with soldering irons. Those not involved with the building of the loggers would still be involved in the project and still see circuits. That could help dispel some of the fear.

    Projects such as those mentioned in the BBC radio 4 Material World podcast should provide plenty of ideas.

    Oh! And bring back Amateur Scientist and Mathematical Recreations!

  5. chizz says:

    .. i was watching last night.

    http://www.eevblog.com/2010/01/16/eevblog-54-electronics-when-i-was-a-boy/

    David Jones’ rants are magnificent, and make even rates a mention here too, as the new way forward, no less!

  6. Anonymous says:

    A few random thoughts:

    I found the part about requiring counseling for the kid and his family particularly difficult to stomach.

    I wonder what kind of technology the emphasize at the school. I expect that it is mostly computer/software oriented. If that’s the case, I hope they at least teach real programming.

    I was impressed that my nephew had a technology class (in rotation with art, music, etc.). It sounded like a good class and he was enthusiastic about it, but basically all they did was learn Sketchup (a nice program to know how to use, but not the be-all and end-all of technology).

    I agree with the sentiment above about Amateur Scientist and Mathematical Recreations. They were both a very important part of my formative years and probably played quite a role in my ending up where (and what) I am now.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Does this mean that science teachers now know SO little about science and engineering that they can not look at the project made by an 11 year old and ascertain its relative risk? Is the FBI on call for Science Fairs in every town now? What I notice at my daughter’s school is a flood of short magazines – and by “magazines” I mean a single newsprint 11×17 or 10×14 page folded in half, free to the schools – published by Scholastic (e.g. “Let’s find out”, “Weekly reader”) or other, on the environment or math or reading skills. They are never about engineering. MY SUGGESTION is a MAKE:Elementary School edition that would contain 1 project (per week or month) makable from trash, a few wires, a motor or simple parts that would be fun to do and also serve to educate the teacher and acclimatize the class room to engineering and invention. The middle pages could be practical, step by step and the back page could be explanatory “why it works.” A short profile of an historical inventor and a profile of a current innovator? Printed on newsprint would be cheap and it would serve as a bona fide teaching resource that emphasizes “hands-on.” Colin – my daughter and I watch all of your videos about electronic components. Well done – we both of us learn something every time. But we are already here at the Make Blog and Make needs to take the message “on the road.” O’Reilly has already knows the educational publishing market, so this is not new territory – make use of that experience and expertise.

    1. chrisgammell.com says:

      @Anonymous

      I really like the idea of the newsletter. I devoured stuff like that when I was a kid (“Look ma’! I’m reading a newspaper too!”). I think exposure to the topics is the most important thing, curiosity and the necessary instruction will follow later. Show them what they can do with the skill and they will likely seek it out.

      As for the logistics of it, I imagine that instead of trying to print and distribute, it’d be better to compile a database of principal/administrator/science teacher emails and then send out a weekly 11×17 tabloid. Many schools have the capacity for printing and the ones that aren’t willing to print it would likely not promote the idea of it in the first place. I say get the info to the schools that care the most, first, and then worry about the others later.

  8. Inventorjack says:

    This is actually something I’ve been wondering about myself for some time now. I’ve got a TON of electronic components and also enclosures I got in bulk in the past. I’ve been considering setting up a monthly/quarterly program in my community to build electronics projects and teach some electronics, at little or hopefully no cost to kids.

    The only thing that keeps me back is that my job sometimes has me traveling for extended period with little warning, so there would have to be someone else who could stand in. I’m hoping to find someone (or a group of people) nearby with similar interests to make this happen.

    This is a long shot, but anyone in the Beaufort SC or Savannah GA area interested, please reply.

  9. jeff-o says:

    I hope that Obama’s push to promote Science, Engineering and Math in schools will help turn the tide against such ridiculous nonsense. Has paranoia in the USA really reached such fantastic heights?

    Schools need more tech programs that encourage hands-on direct manipulation of materials, like electronics, woodworking, and skilled trades. These essential skills must be encouraged, promoted and nourished just as much as literacy, math and *cough* sports.

    It’s also up to parents to take a stand against the temptations of TV and video games, moderating their use to acceptable levels.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out to buy a month’s salary worth of educational toys for my kids. Hmmm, and maybe a child-sized welding mask, too…

  10. Dwarg says:

    I do not fault the vice principal for reporting what he saw since the safety of his students HAS to be his first priority. Those of us that graduated before Columbine don’t appreciate the atmosphere in modern schools. Suffice it to say tensions are high.

    The problem is that after things are reported every step in the procedure assumes worst case scenario. The accused is never given the benefit of the doubt until the jury is briefed on the nature of innocent until proven guilty. Common sense would have had the device confiscated, the child interviewed as to its nature, a quick look at the student’s records and maybe see if any faculty would vouch for the student’s character and then have the student demonstrate the device in a controlled environment.

    What the article doesn’t mention is what the students were talking about when they were looking at the device. A motion sensor by it’s nature triggers something else. If I had built one when I was in middle school and me and my friends were looking at it and playing with it I know we would have been excitedly talking about all the doomsday devices we would trigger with it. Back in my day that was all in good fun. These days it’s taken all too seriously.

    I’m all for the electronics clubs mentioned earlier. It gives students mentorship, a controlled environment to learn in and allows for setting procedures so the administration has some idea how to react to these devices when spotted.

  11. justDIY says:

    Getting kids interested in electronics won’t be possible without first winning the minds of the “controlling” generation, folks aged 40 to 70 that run the world.

    I was fortunate enough to take both a programming class (mighty Pascal) and an “electronics” class in high school, a school with a typical graduating class of 150 kids. This was back in the mid 90s. Talking to kids at that school today, they no longer offer either. However, they do offer a class in photoshop. The electronics class was mostly about basic theory and household wiring, but we also spent some time on actual microelectronics and selected and built kits from Jameco or some such.

    The “guidance counselors” strongly discouraged me from taking the electronics class because it was classified as a “vocational” class, and I was on the “college track”. They put up the same fight when I wanted to take welding and wood shop – I never was able to take those classes.

    As long as the controlling generation is dead set in their ways that “college track” means book learning and nothing hands-on, a mantra passed along like some sort of torch, it won’t matter how interesting we try to make things for the kids, the establishment will still discourage it as a “waste” of time / talent / resources / money / etc.

  12. Sean says:

    “Don’t let Education get in the way of your Learning”

    holds more truth now than it did then, mostly because the prejudices in the present are inexcusable. As education standards decline, we as students have to be increasingly self taught to keep up with the rest of the planet.

    @JUSTDIY

    Heh, I managed to break the system in my Senior year and take more credits than possible in order to get my shop classes. The administration somehow caught on halfway through the last quarter and tried to create a stink. Sadly, our electronics program was garbage, so I ended up in Industrial Mechanics, applying my self-taught electronics skills I’d been working on since elementary school to block diagnose problems which led to my cutting edge first career as an auto service tech, specializing in troubleshooting electronic engine control systems. Because of my diagnosis experience, I could think outside the tree and come up with solutions about three times faster than factory taught people who just followed the factory manual decision trees. It helps to understand what the system is supposed to do, break it down into subsystems and look for the problem in that subsystem, a thing diagnosis trees try to do by rote.

    I probably would have been in this student’s situation in sixth grade, only I was working with tube radios and so bringing a project to school involved hosting around a pretty heavy power supply transformer. In high school, building locker annoyance devices was fun. My sideline interest in newly released computers during this time started what became my second career in computer networking and management where, once again, my self-taught diagnosis skills played a major role at giving me a leg up over the paper-mill certificate guys. Sadly at the time, the local community college was ignoring computer networking, or I would have gotten an AS degree.

    Enough of going on about myself, what I would have really appreciated at the time was some support from the educational system to help people like me along our career paths, instead of me and a few interested people having to struggle to find my way. Not everyone can self-educate successfully and forge careers from it. There are always gaps where you have to play catch-up.

    Something you’d expect from a Tech School, which this one is obviously failing at, is to provide this support.

  13. bdolge says:

    is a sacred duty, if somewhat futile, as it always seems to be in infinite supply.

    I love the idea of a weekly free-to-schools 4 page (single folded sheet) version of Make. Somebody forward that to Mr. O”Reilly. Great advertising for him and teachers eat that stuff (ready made handouts and project ideas) up. Kids love DIY until someone convinces them it’s uncool. Aim at 5th thru 8th grade, when kids are competent to do real stuff with minimal supervision.

    This is also an area where hackerspaces need to get off their collective butts and get real. If you say your purpose is “educational” or “community outreach” then do it. Instead of (just) having EagleCAD demos in your space on weekday nights start teaching soldering for kids at the library some weekend. Call it “Building BugBots” or “Make your own flashing jewelry” if you want actual kids to show up. Go see what your local school needs that DIY tech can supply (Wii-mote whiteboards are a start).

    In the same vein what do I have to do to get Maker Faire D.C. (insert your city there) to happen? If O’Reilly pubs isn’t interested maybe the local hackerspace could sponsor a “Make Stuff Happening” with support from local craft/hobby retailers. Alert the media. Sell hot dogs. Put on a show.

    So there are 3 practical ideas. The root causes of the problem can be hashed out endlessly and other people can be blamed forever. The important question is “What have you done to fix it?”

    1. Inventorjack says:

      Sort of along the lines of your post, does anyone know if any of the hackerspaces are running any educational programs for kids. It seems that these spaces would be the ideal location for getting kids involved, and it would be great publicity for hackerspaces.

    2. sburlappp says:

      I’ve been thinking about these sorts of questions for the last few years, since my son became old enough to want to learn more about the world around him. Here is what I’ve done to teach him, and to help teach others in my community. If you’re wondering what you can do to help, please considering doing the same.

      * Set an example

      Kids learn by example. If you want your kid to be curious about the world around him, show him what interests you, and let him catch your enthusiasm. Do projects together, no matter how simple or complex, let him watch or help, but get him involved and keep him involved.

      I’ve introduced my son to Lego robotics (he’s on a FIRST team now), programming in Scratch, and even a little soldering – not bad for a ten-year-old.

      * Build a community

      I went looking around for a local place to share our enthusiasm for all things technical, but found only that my local regional computer club had been on a long decline, due to a lack of new members and new enthusiasm. I have been working to change that, by creating a sub-group with a more technical focus, promoting it in a blog (rockbots.blogspot.com), and helping establish links with our local college (where I work) and other community groups.

      I recommend that anyone considering starting a local hackerspace first consider working with their local computer club, which will have existing members, resources, and relationships with the local community. My local club has non-profit status, which helps us attract support and donations.

      * Don’t forget the old kids

      We talk a lot about how to teach technology to kids, but tend to forget that part of the problem is that the parents often missed out on learning technology too. If you want kids to really catch the spark, you need to get everyone involved, and make it part of their lives, an everyday thing at school and at home too. My local computer club efforts have been aimed mostly at adults, with the side effect of helping our kids indirectly. I’ve also done what I can to link older groups (computer club) to younger groups (FIRST team) and get conversations going all around seeking more opportunities to work together, to promote hands-on technology education at every age.

      * Share early and often

      I heartily endorse the idea of a Make Weekly for schools, but I think we can start more simply – just tag a few suitable articles per week from the blog, and provide a link to a nicely formatted PDF of the week’s articles every Saturday.

      I also second the request for help starting up local Maker Faires nationwide. I’m glad New York City is getting a big Faire this fall, but I’d still like to do something smaller more locally to get my own community involved.

  14. Alan Parekh says:

    It is quite possible that the vice principal was not acting with poor judgment. He could have overheard a conversation between the kids saying sure it could be connected to anything including a bomb. Being safe and evacuating the school is a smart step if you even suspect there is something dangerous in the school.

    What totally disgusts me is the end reaction. When it was determined that the device was just a harmless electronic creation by a student who has an interest in DIY electronics they suggested counseling for him and his parents! What’s up with that? Do we want to promote a head down, don’t do anything other than what you are told generation? Creativity and curiosity is how most people I know of got their start in electronics, the formal education almost always came later. I am very concerned that this could stifle his love of electronics.

    What I suggest we do as a DIY electronics community is send some encouragement his way in the form of electronic projects and parts. Collin, if you have his address please pass it along and I will get one of our kits to him.
    http://alan-parekh.com/projects/button-code-single-button-code-entry-system/

    Alan Parekh

  15. Collin Cunningham says:

    Thanks to all for the calm intelligent approach here. I’m compiling a list of all the ideas and will update the post with a summary of suggestions for considerations.

  16. Tod E. Kurt says:

    Nthing the idea of some sort of mini-MAKE targeted at schools. And the idea of ready-made projects for kids.

    We need to make a set of teacher-targeted ready-to-go lesson plans & equipment kits for kid-oriented no-solder electronic projects. Teachers already have a lot of work, let’s make it as easy as possible for them to incorporate electronics into their curriculum.

    I imagine a kit with ten 555 timer circuits that flashed LEDs, beeped piezos, and responded to photocells would be both lots of fun and really cheap to put together. I made my first photocell theremin when I was around 8 or 9 and I loved tormenting the household with it.

    (Frankly I can’t believe the incurious reactionary nature of the school officials. Come on, just take a look at what the kid made! Apply some common sense!)

  17. dave says:

    It is truely depressing that society in 2010 is at this point.
    So many flaws in the system were exposed in San
    Diego that day….
    1st a vice principal so uneducated he could not tell a childs diy electronics project from a bomb. Sure not everybody can tell these things but really this man is charged with educating our children.
    Second an adult society that is so wrapped up with fast consumerism that the thought of soldering a few wires together and some ic’s in there somewhere must be the work of evil.
    3rd the swat team and police force that blew this further out of proportion and for the same reasons the other two failed.
    Consumerism has led us away from DIY. 9-11 used as an excuse to question everything that seems odd or really anything not bought in a store. Add in mainstream media that is owned by the same giant consumer ad compaines and you get overblown stories of a child that seems to be smarter than any of the adults in his immediate surroundings.

    1. Collin Cunningham says:

      As I understand it, many schools have a strict policy of reporting unknown or ‘suspicious’ devices to school security. Needless to say, any unnecessary escalations of perceived dangers is highly regrettable – but may unfortunately be beyond the scope of personal judgement at that point.

      Sadly, things have changed much since many of us were in school and that’s important to keep in mind here before blaming anyone.

  18. KentKB says:

    There was an interview with Dean Kamen on NPR the other day:
    http://bit.ly/6sDPqM
    When asked why he set up FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) as a competition:
    ” I decided to make a competition because first, was to really enhance it to a very, I think, a large concern I have and a lot of people have in this country which is so many kids in this country are literary not just interested in but obsessed by sports and by entertainment and it so dominates our culture that it crowds out in many cases kids ability to separate what our past times and distractions for what are important things they’ve got to do while they’re young”

    I remember my first Science fair fondly too for much the same reasons….

  19. Steve Hoefer says:

    While I do understand that the vice principal saw something ‘scary’ and acted on that, his ignorance has had really disastrous results. Suddenly a kid who is smart, creative, and excited about making stuff and solving problems he encounters in the world has been told that he’s a hairsbreadth away from being a Unibomber or Collumbine shooter, that he needs to go to some kind of therapy to fix this aberrant behavior.

    And it isn’t only this kid, it’s all the kids out there who have read this and suddenly had second thoughts. All of these creative excited minds have suddenly be given pause all because of a hysterical vice principal. (Yes hysterical. How may real bombs are brought into schools in the US every year? Rounding up: None.)

    People don’t have to know how to throw a circuit together, but they do need to know that circuits are everywhere and the don’t always come in iPhone and TV-shaped packages. The best way we can reduce the fear is to get people used to seeing them, not only the projects, but that ordinary people make them.

    So lets go out and take making, tinkering, creative problem solving–whatever you want to call it–to the streets, as it were. Get wires and circuits in front of people, get hem used to seeing them and you making them. Take your copy of Make Electronics and your tacklebox full of tools and parts down to your local coffee shop and work through some projects. Invite friends. On nice days, do it down in the park. Hackerpsace off-site days. Take your soft circuits to craft fairs and talk about them and show them off. Does your mall/pedestrian area/farmer’s market/etc have places where you can reserve a space and set up a table? Whatever, wherever.

    And of course be friendly and open to anyone who is curious or has questions. Explain what you’re doing and why. Invite them to sit down and try something themselves. Maybe keep an extra Mintyoboost or Drawdio kit on hand to let/help a curious bystander make something awesome.

    And if you keep your Make-ness inside, let it out. If you hack circuits at home in your basement and don’t tell your coworkers about it, change that. It’s hard to be afraid of someone who does circuit bending when both Bob from HR and Karen from accounting do it.

  20. anachrocomputer says:

    I’d like to echo the call (from the first posting above) for after-school electronics clubs. Or more generally, “making things” clubs, whether those things be electronic, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic or purely software.

    I’d like to mention my experience of being introduced to electronics at school — and in my case, at a state-run boys’ Grammar School in England, 1973 to 1980. We had an after-school electronics club, hosted by enthusiastic Physics and Maths teachers. It was held in the electronics lab that had been set up for Sixth-Formers to use for the A-level in Electronic Systems (we could choose three A-level subjects to study from 16 to 18).

    Outside of the club, we had the school radio station, Radio Lexden. We built our own audio mixer, we took apart valve (vacuum tube) radios, TVs and tape recorders, and we generally tinkered with electronics. Everybody used a soldering iron, and yes, sometimes we got burned. Sometimes we scorched and melted our school blazers.

    On top of all that, the local technical college had another electronics club! That club was on Friday evenings in the lab that was used for the college course in TV repair, and gave us access to scopes, signal generators, digital frequency meters, and above all, the expertise of the volunteer tutors there.

    Incidentally, in that era we had a choice of several electronics monthly magazines, aimed at all levels of expertise. Later on, we had the early homebrew computer magazines, and spin-off clubs to go with them.

    I know for sure that many careers were forged in that environment, with boys going on to work at the BBC, Marconi, INMOS and similar UK electronics and software companies. So, I’m all in favour of more after-school activities where young people are encouraged to make stuff, and teachers are given the freedom to lead them.

    1. Maha says:

      Anachrocomputer, are you this guy? http://c0re-dump.livejournal.com/

      I stalk everyone on LJ with the arduino interest (/me tries to not look creepy) and your pictures look similar. If it is, i like your work.

      1. anachrocomputer says:

        Yes, the very same! Glad to hear that you liked the Arduino stuff — I’ll be bringing some of it to the Maker Faire in Newcastle.

  21. KentKB says:

    Just saw this today (to late?)

    “Together with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Education, and Learn and Serve America, we are asking developers to take the MLK Technology Challenge.”

    http://www.serve.gov/mlkday_tech.asp

  22. Beardy says:

    While this may be just sensational reporting (don’t get me started!) — do we know the nature of the device?

    The article says “motion-detector type of device, was composed of an empty half-liter Gatorade bottle” … “no substance inside” — the vice principal wouldn’t know if that bottle contained flammable gas, or a toxic gas.

    And “recommending that he and his parents get counseling” — I have no intention to offend the persons in question, but if this child, and his parents, were to be displaying anarchic tendencies, then this would be an entirely appropriate response.

    All this and more… WE JUST DON’T KNOW …from the cited article… so,

    Let’s just slow down before we get all wound up!

    ————–

    Otherwise, I do heartily agree with all the positive responses here regarding raising the profile of electronics (and other sciences) and engaging children.

    Let’s all do what we can.

    Marcel

  23. Eofhan says:

    V.P. didn’t worry about the kid’s project as a risk to students’ safety. It was risk to the V.P.’s career. “Sure, I’m 99% certain it’s harmless. But the Board is looking for an excuse, and ‘Endangering Students’ is asking to be fired . . . ”

    Start an after-school club? How long before some kid burns his finger on a soldering iron and his parents sue? Or takes what he learned and accidentally shoots the neighbor-kid with his home-built crossbow? “Your Honor, if only the school hadn’t cavalierly given devastating knowledge to my client’s child . . . ”

    Besides — “MY kid is above-average. MY kid will go to college, get a good job in an office with somebody to change the lightbulbs and connect his computer to the LAN, and make enough money to call a plumber whenever the whatever-that-thingy-is in the bathroom stops working. So why are you wasting MY tax-money forcing MY kid to work a bandsaw?”

    Friend, I wish I knew how to change all of that. I really do.

    1. bjh says:

      @Eofhan That sums up the single biggest problem with our litigious system: the irrational fear it seems to engender. The only way to combat that is to grow a spine, don’t let imagined edge-cases box you in, and forge ahead with what you know is best for all involved; fear can only increase ignorance, never enlighten.

      Of the suggestions so far: being more public with your hacking, mentoring anyone and everyone who wants to learn, and working with (professional) educators to produce more material that is optimized for use in (official) classrooms are all great ways to promote and educate.

      Don’t underestimate anyone either, I let my son start using a cheap multimeter (with supervision – bold, not stupid) when he was two, now that he’s just over three, he can switch it to the right setting and “measure” voltage of batteries (he doesn’t understand it yet, but I couldn’t be more proud)

  24. Dave Ewan says:

    Here’s the school’s contact page : http://www.mtechmiddle.org/apps/contact/?rn=8647722

    It might help to express concern over this ridiculous decision.

  25. premature anti-fascist says:

    Does anyone remember Neal Stephenson’s _The Diamond Age_?

    He depicted a cultural clash between centralized production, and DIY, make anything at home 3D printing.

    There’s a reason that it’s cheaper to buy a new gadget than to fix the old one, if we could fix it ourselves, we wouldn’t be dependent on an industrial process oceans away.

    maybe if we were adding all these gadgets to our homemade firearms, we could claim 2nd amendment protection, and have the NRA lobby for us. But other than that, I don’t see a way to make this conflict go away, short of winning a class war.

  26. david says:

    “but if this child, and his parents, were to be displaying anarchic tendencies, then this would be an entirely appropriate response.”

    I can only say ‘what?’. Why is building stuff a sign of anarchic tendencies? And who says even if they *do*, they need to go to counseling? Bizarre. Had it been a bomb (which is wasn’t) then maybe you could cite anarchic tendencies. As it is, that’s no more valid than saying he was displaying capitalist tendencies. Or a tendency to prefer beef over chicken.

  27. Enrique Santa cruz says:

    You have yielded to paranoia, now one of the most American activities need counseling! I am a Mexican that has been inspired by the entire Do it yourself literature available in the US, from woodworking to rockets building and I find atrocious what happened. Keep it up and you will lose your edge. How can anyone invent something if innovation could be considered dangerous on itself? Edison himself would be considered dangerous!
    When you are afraid to fly on an airplane everybody tells you that it is more likely to die in your bathroom. I can’t see why the smart people in the US have not used the same reasoning about terrorism. The orange terrorism threat level will stay that way for ever and that will take its toll on everyone. You should learn from the British, they decided not to live with fear, you are smarter and stronger but everything scares you. I saw an airport in Long Beach being evacuated because of a Nintendo DS that was on the documented bag.
    I really hope in the near future you find a solution to this problem.

  28. Advocate for practical vocational training... says:

    I must say, I haven’t read all the comments, but my high school had an electronics class…well, two semesters of it. It was packed!

    My question is (and this is after taking two semesters of electronics for engineers at my university), how are we training students in science and physics without them getting a grasp on circuits and such basic principles as analysis. My fiancee, a biology major, understood the physics behind my homework, however my fellow engineering peers didn’t know how to determine total resistance. Let’s bring back the HAM radio and get our kids and students back on track with knowing electronics technology…

  29. Dale says:

    There was to much info for a comment so here are the “contact us” webpages for the five major San Diego news affiliates. If I were that kid I think it would be cool to hear that I had nationwide support on TV.

    10 ABC KGTV : http://www.10news.com/kgtv/178407/detail.html

    15 PBS KPBS : (Bottom of the page) http://www.kpbs.org/

    39 NBC KNSD : http://www.nbcsandiego.com/contact-us/

    69 CW KSWB (6 FOX XETV?) http://www.sandiego6.com/content/contacts/default.aspx

    8 CBS KFMB : http://www.cbs8.com/Global/category.asp?C=155504

In the Maker Shed