MAKE contributer Thomas Zimmerman honored as California’s Volunteer of the Year


We are proud of our friend and colleague, Thomas Zimmerman, who was honored today as California’s Volunteer of the Year.

Tom, who has written a half dozen terrific how-to articles for MAKE (including an electronic drum kit, a lensless microscope, a simple way to interconnect protoboards, a one-string electric guitar from plastic tubing, a TV-to-synth interface, and a wireless remote control camera on wheels) was given the award by California First Lady Maria Shriver.

“I even got to speak a little German with Arnold during our photo op,” says Tom. “Mrs. Hoffer, my 7th grade German teacher, would be proud.”

Zimmerman has been bringing his hands-on approach to volunteerism to local schools for more than seven years, with specific focus on low-income, non-native English speaking students. Together, Zimmerman and the students have built circuits and devices, an electric guitar and drum kit out of plastic pipe, a microscope with no lens, and a mini Mars rover, among many other things. Many of these projects have been published in MAKE, a magazine for do-it-yourself enthusiasts.

After receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation, Zimmerman formalized his activities into a curriculum at the Latino College Preparatory Academy (LCPA), a public charter high school in East San Jose run by the National Hispanic University. Over one hundred students have participated in this two-year program that combines extreme activities with science and includes a summer camp.

Tom, we salute you. You’re an inspiration to us all.

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Mark Frauenfelder is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Make: magazine, and the founder of the popular Boing Boing blog.

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