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Author: Subject: Science project prompts SD school evacuation
ssdd
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Science project prompts SD school evacuation

I thought I would share this news article that I saw today, it has me pretty outraged since I am a major proponent for free thinking in education and promoting the sciences at a young age:

Summary (from slashdot):
"Police in San Diego were called to investigate an 11-year-old's science project, consisting of 'a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics,' after the vice-principal came to the conclusion that it was a bomb. Charges aren't being laid against the youth, but it's being recommended that he and his family 'get counseling.'"

The original article:
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jan/15/students-evac...

Irony: "The school, which has about 440 students in grades 6 to 8 and emphasizes technology skills..."

I would really love to know why the %$#@ they think that the student and the parents need 'counseling,' what is wrong with a kid being interested in science outside of the classroom and working on a project that interests them? None the less the parents supported this which seems rare now-a-days... Yes I am aware this was listed as a violation of school policy, but why blow it so far out of proportion? -ssdd All that glitters may not be gold, but at least it contains free electrons. -- John Desmond Baernal http://deepnorth.info/ R0b0t1 Harmless Posts: 26 Registered: 2-1-2010 Location: Sniping Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood I was so sad I laughed. Talk about inappropriate reaction :-\ We've been doing so much with so little for so long, we can do everything with nothing in no time at all. MagicJigPipe International Hazard Posts: 1553 Registered: 19-9-2007 Location: USA Member Is Offline Mood: Suspicious People's association of bombs with electronics is puzzling to me. Is it TV/movies? Twice in my life I have been suspected of "making bombs" because of my interest in electronics. The first time was when I was a teenager and the second time much later. I think some people truly believe that bombs can be made with electronics alone (well, I guess they could but you know what I mean). "There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer The_Davster A pnictogen Posts: 2861 Registered: 18-11-2003 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood That is disgusting. If the parents had not been cooperative they would either have had to get a warrant, or be subject to illegal search of their garage and could be suing. The search was AFTER they x-rayed the bottle and found it harmless and was completely unwarranted. I would be getting a lawyer at this point and looking for some reason to sue local officials/school for this unnecessary response. That is the only way these morons learn, hitting them in their wallets. The quote about getting counseling is a big WTF. The kid knew enough about electronics to make a motion detector, there must be something wrong with him. He is not like the majority of 11 year olds today; he is not trying to score pot or booze, he is playing scientist, this must change. If I was this kid's father heads would be metaphorically rolling at this school. hissingnoise International Hazard Posts: 3921 Registered: 26-12-2002 Member Is Offline Mood: Pulverulescent! This is obviously all part of the great 'Stupidity Contest' that bureaucrats have been running behind the scenes for some considerable time. This latest 'effort' looks good for the moment but you can bet that some cretin out there is working real hard on something to put this one in the shade. unionised International Hazard Posts: 4119 Registered: 1-11-2003 Location: UK Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood I think the important bit here is "after the vice-principal came to the conclusion that it was a bomb". Isn't he the one who needs counselling? hissingnoise International Hazard Posts: 3921 Registered: 26-12-2002 Member Is Offline Mood: Pulverulescent! Or a brain-transplant? My other theory is that this has to do with the feminisation of the male population. Female hormones getting into drinking water and that kind of thing. I'm guessing the vice-principal is female and so reacted with hysterics. Unfortunately, when she brought it to the attention of some males, they too, became hysterical. At some point we'll all become highly-strung teenage girls. S.C. Wack bibliomaster Posts: 2066 Registered: 7-5-2004 Location: Cornworld, Central USA Member Is Offline Mood: Enhanced You haven't seen anything yet! Things like this will be nothing, with the way that the populace has been trained; for example everyone in Portland fully supports the overreaction in the plane to Hawaii that turned back last week...with fighter jets: http://www.kgw.com/home/Maui-bound-plane-turned-back-to-PDX-... http://www.kgw.com/news/local/Exclusive-KGW-interview-with-J... and you'll see similar comments with Taserings, etc. How the comments in San Diego in this case got to be anti-establishment I have no idea, but you'll notice that very few comments are directed at the police. It looks like this sort of reaction is par for the course in San Diego: http://www.10news.com/news/22142908/detail.html [Edited on 18-1-2010 by S.C. Wack] MagicJigPipe International Hazard Posts: 1553 Registered: 19-9-2007 Location: USA Member Is Offline Mood: Suspicious Oh my god... If that man goes to prison... We have officially gone completely bonkers. Textbook mass hysteria? A transcript of what might put him in jail (for those that might have trouble reading it, like me):  Quote: I thought I was going to die, we were so high up, I thought to myself: I hope we don't crach and burn or worse yet landing in the ocean, living through it, only to be eaten by shark's, or worse yet, end up on someplace like gilligans Island, stranded, or worse yet, be eaten by a Tribe of head hunters, speaking of head hunters, why do They just eat outsiders, and not The family members? strange... and what if The plane ripped apart in mid-flight and we plumited to earth landed on gilligans Island and Then lived Through it, and The only woman There was Mrs. Thurston Howell, III? no mary anne (my favorite) no ginger, just lovey! If it were just her, I think I'd opt, for the sharks, maybe The headhunters Flight#: 39 From: Portland To: Maui Coach Hahahahaha! Whoever the judge is in this case needs to reprimand whoever arrested him and throw the case out. Immediately. Oh, this will piss you off. Look at some of the comments:  Quote: "It was a joke." Nobody's laughing (except Mr. Johnson perhaps) My mother-in-law in the past left a phone message that she was dying of cancer. She then said it was a joke. She really thought she was funny. I suppose this guy could be like that, really think something was funny where 500,000 other people would think was monumentally stupid.  Quote: I would hope that while serving the 20 years in prison, which I hope he gets, he will have the chance to learn how to be a human being, and appropriate ways of interacting with the public, while in it. I would also hope it will allow him time to reflect on all possible meanings of the term "stupid should hurt".  Quote: What an a##whipe! His stupid, self-absorbed idea of comedy caused hundreds of people to be forced to endure a big disruption in their vacation time. And as we all know, vacation time is priceless. And he won't even appologize? If you can't keep your psychotic delusions in check, stay off the airplanes (and any other transportation for that matter). If I were a passenger on that plane, I would give him a resaon to regret his actions. Are these real people? Really? I am ashamed to be human right now. [Edited on 1-18-2010 by MagicJigPipe] "There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer aonomus National Hazard Posts: 361 Registered: 18-10-2009 Location: Toronto, Canada Member Is Offline Mood: Refluxing There probably isn't a fine line between 'asking for it' and innocent guy with a cool project, and scared people that cry 'witchcraft'. I myself have had my tesla coil outside, with some soccer moms nearby threatening to call the police, when its not necessarily threatening. I think the fact that it played music made it less threatening, but people fear what they don't understand. I'm sure that if I had a big 1L RBF with a beta fish inside it, someone would say that I'm trying to synthesize methamphetamine, just because the glassware doesn't look like it was purchased from walmart for$9.99.

Again, the best thing we can hope to do is raise awareness of amateur science, and the fact that it doesn't just occur at low level projects in elementary/highschool, but at a post-secondary or even perhaps graduate level, independent of large organizations and funding. We need a new inventor/tinkerer age to dawn upon us, otherwise we will drown in patent filings.

Another problem is that once someone makes an accusation of 'its a bomb', 'its drugs', 'terrorism', they simply don't want to be proven wrong, for risk of their job, reputation etc. People will find a reason, whether valid or not, to justify their job.

Just look at the District of Columbia unmarked detective car incident, some kid in a random crowd hit his car with a snowball during a big snowball fight downtown, but he decided to exit the vehicle, gun drawn, and decided to pick one kid out of a crowd of probably 200+, just so he could justify drawing his gun and not looking incompetent and unable to judge/gauge the situation.

The vice principal probably said that the kid needed counselling, because their [in]ability to teach and supervise the kids, and be aware of their science fair projects would otherwise come to light. Unfortunately individuals in these situations fail to understand the new medium that is the internet (read: streisand effect). Probably every time one of these stories comes out and someone posts the administrator's contact information on a slashdot thread, he gets innundated with strongly worded voicemails, etc - urging the right action.
ssdd
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 Quote: Are these real people? Really? I am ashamed to be human right now.

I couldn't agree more... It seems every time I read the news there are stories that are just disappointing. Today alone:
"Butter should be banned to protect the nation's health, according to a leading heart surgeon."
"Police In Britain Arrest Man For Bomb-Threat Joke On Twitter"
"Under changes to the state's classification act, which came into effect on Sunday, businesses will face fines of up to \$5000 for displaying a "poster, pamphlet or other printed material" for films classified R18+."(south australia)

 Quote: Again, the best thing we can hope to do is raise awareness of amateur science, and the fact that it doesn't just occur at low level projects in elementary/highschool, but at a post-secondary or even perhaps graduate level, independent of large organizations and funding. We need a new inventor/tinkerer age to dawn upon us, otherwise we will drown in patent filings.

This is very true, but I suppose the real question is how does one go about this?

-ssdd

All that glitters may not be gold, but at least it contains free electrons.
-- John Desmond Baernal
http://deepnorth.info/
aonomus
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The recent news of http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/01/16/2140218/Italy-Floats-... means that putting up videos on the internet (of anything also) of chemistry will become harder. Italy sets the precedent for major media outlets to have to apply for permission for videos on the internet, but that trickles down to individuals eventually.

In the mean time, probably some nicely produced videos of chemistry procedures on youtube could help our cause in a minor way. You may or may not think nurdrage on youtube is a good thing or not, but with that level of interest and support, and with decent video production, hopefully we can bring favour towards our side.

Probably also even doing carefully produced video blogs in response to chemophobia, questioning the investigation of the media into the subject in cases that are applicable.

Youtube could be a good tool for us, so long as we don't look all like kewls. I see so many videos where unsafe chemistry happens, no gloves, open flame with flammable solvents, bedroom chemistry, etc. That kind of video makes the entirety of amateur chemistry look bad.... Perhaps Sciencemadness members could collaborate on making some nice videos?

[Edited on 18-1-2010 by aonomus]
psychokinetic
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Holy shit a motion detector! That terrorist kid is going to detect our motion!

-ahem-. Yes aonomus, nurdrage has its place. And when the nurdrage is about stuff that people on the internet think is/are cool, then raging nurds are likely to have some backup.

I'm going about it by DOING IT. Also, teaching my kids (including safety, because I'm not a knob who's going to go ruin it for everyone else).

Here's hoping.

“If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search.
I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.”
-Tesla
Magpie
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the tefillin farce

Here's the latest clusterfuck:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/21/jewish-teenagers-te...

The single most important condition for a successful synthesis is good mixing - Nicodem
International Hazard

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Mood: Finally calming down

Entrenched Idiots

An 11-year old is investigated by law enforcement because the vice-principal suspects that
the kid's homemade motion detector is a bomb. A bored, nervous air-passenger
is arrested for a federal felony for expressing his anxieties on a comment card. Italy is
considering censoring the uploading of videos. A 16-year old is detained and questioned
for performing a harmless religious ritual on an airplane.

The incident with the 11-year old is especially galling. "Counseling" is recommended for
this kid and his family. These bureaucratic wankers are so full of shit they need an ENEMA !
Invest any spare money in Fleet Labs. We'll make a fortune in the stock market when these
bastards get it rammed up their asses !

Power comes from the barrel of a gun !
Jor
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 Quote: Originally posted by aonomus Sadly I don't know ssdd. The recent news of http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/01/16/2140218/Italy-Floats-... means that putting up videos on the internet (of anything also) of chemistry will become harder. Italy sets the precedent for major media outlets to have to apply for permission for videos on the internet, but that trickles down to individuals eventually. In the mean time, probably some nicely produced videos of chemistry procedures on youtube could help our cause in a minor way. You may or may not think nurdrage on youtube is a good thing or not, but with that level of interest and support, and with decent video production, hopefully we can bring favour towards our side. Probably also even doing carefully produced video blogs in response to chemophobia, questioning the investigation of the media into the subject in cases that are applicable. Youtube could be a good tool for us, so long as we don't look all like kewls. I see so many videos where unsafe chemistry happens, no gloves, open flame with flammable solvents, bedroom chemistry, etc. That kind of video makes the entirety of amateur chemistry look bad.... Perhaps Sciencemadness members could collaborate on making some nice videos? [Edited on 18-1-2010 by aonomus]

I agree. Many people have chemistry channels. Please take a look for example at youtube-member Nurdrage. Or TheHomeScientist, wich is Robert Bruce Thompson, who has written a book about home chemistry. And Nurdrage is promoting many other channels, where there is also nice chemistry, like AlChemicalGarden.

And ofcourse take a look at mine :
entropy51
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I think a lot of this stupidity is just that almost no one knows anything about science anymore.

A hundred years ago ordinary folks read things like Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, Electrical World and so on. People made things in their home workshops and home labs were not really unheard of. My entirely self-educated grandfather had a very nice library of engineering books, which I still read sometimes.

Even 30 years ago students had to take a year of a lab science to get a bachelor's degree. I think this has largely gone by the wayside, with soft core things like "Physics for Poets" having replaced them.

People who had a physics course see wires and batteries and think "just like my physics lab in college". The other huge majority see wires and batteries and think "BOMB".

And they all wonder why the economy is going to hell.
Magpie
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 Quote: Originally posted by entropy51 I think a lot of this stupidity is just that almost no one knows anything about science anymore.

I agree. Against my better judgement I forwarded the photo shown below to a relative that is unaware of my hobby. This guy is in his 50's and has a college degree - in business I think. When he saw the picture he said "whoa - are you makin' meth? haha."

My response was "why do you think I could make meth with just a few test tubes?" All he said was "Well I know they use Draino, right?."

The single most important condition for a successful synthesis is good mixing - Nicodem
aonomus
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Hopefully the recent few years of 'makers' will start to turn things around, as more and more people are DIYing everything, and repurposing technology, it will bring around another advent of at-home invention, science, and technology.

Electronics, robotics, etc are the gateway, its easy and somewhat safe enough compared to what we do, but if they get hooked and want to do more, they'll feel confident enough to do the research first.

[Edited on 24-1-2010 by aonomus]
nitroglycol
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This is truly insane. In the Union-Tribune article, the claim is made that "the student violated school policies", but the "journalist" who wrote the article doesn't seem to have asked which "policies" were actually violated. I'd bet that it's a blanket policy against "threats", and that embarrassed school officials want to fit this square peg in that round hole out of revenge. And obviously the kid needs counselling, because he's demonstrated that he's smarter than an authority figure, which can't be allowed.

I must take issue with the following, though; it's a gratuitous cheap shot at women with nothing to back it up:
 Quote: Originally posted by hissingnoise Or a brain-transplant? My other theory is that this has to do with the feminisation of the male population. Female hormones getting into drinking water and that kind of thing. I'm guessing the vice-principal is female and so reacted with hysterics. Unfortunately, when she brought it to the attention of some males, they too, became hysterical. At some point we'll all become highly-strung teenage girls.

Nowhere in the story is the sex of the vice-principal stated, so this is a total non sequitor.

[Edited on 25/1/2010 by nitroglycol]

WARNING: Do not urinate on distributor while engine is in operation.
hissingnoise
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 Quote: I must take issue with the following, though; it's a gratuitous cheap shot at women with nothing to back it up:

You're right nitroglycol, I'm a pisstaking sexist boor and unapologetic to boot.
What I said probably isn't even worthy of being called a non sequitur. . .
So thanks!

International Hazard

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Test Tubes

Magpie, a 50+ year old, college educated, person assumes a rack of test tubes can be used to
make "meth" ? Generally, I'll give the non-chemist types a pass but this sounds like a sign of
being exposed to too much government propaganda. I'm 51 years old and both my 6th
grade science and 9th grade earth science teachers loved to demonstrate explosives on
a lab scale. Maybe that's why I liked their courses so much !

BTW, I had a test tube rack like that(wood) and test tubes in my 1st chemistry set at age 8.
My parents didn't understand the sciences but knew I had an interest at a very young age.
My brother and sisters couldn't have cared less.

Power comes from the barrel of a gun !
Magpie
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 Quote: Originally posted by MadHatter Magpie, a 50+ year old, college educated, person assumes a rack of test tubes can be used to make "meth" ? BTW, I had a test tube rack like that(wood) and test tubes in my 1st chemistry set at age 8. [Edited on 2010/1/26 by MadHatter]

Yes, sad but true. To give him the benefit of the doubt, I think he was just surprised to see that I had all those solutions. Then his brainwashing just took over from there. And it was his chance to jab me a bit.

I made that rack out of black walnut and oak. The black walnut is from a small piece I had been saving for over 20 years, just waiting for a good application. This was my first home chemistry project. My brother liked the rack and assumed that this would be my hobby in retirement, ie, woodwork. I straightened him out on that real fast.

The single most important condition for a successful synthesis is good mixing - Nicodem
len1
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My son recently showed me a boat he made out of an empty coke tin and some electronics. I now told him on no account should he take it to school.

Who should pay for the excessive responce? Either the school or the vice principal if he acted without consultation. To see this, one should only ask who would pay if I had called the special squad after my son had showed me his contraption in a bath tub?

[Edited on 26-1-2010 by len1]
DougTheMapper
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This reminds me of a recent incident which occurred at my school dormitory. I had been harvesting fluorescent light ballasts from the trash while renovations were being made to the school, mainly for the large pass transistors and high-voltage inductors inside.

I had about 7 of them neatly wrapped in their wires and stacked in a drawer awaiting transport home. A visiting friend of my roommate's happened to see them and asked me if they were "Bricks of C-4."

I told him that he watches too much TV.

It also gets on my nerves when the few friends who do know I have a lab watch me mix two solutions and immediately point out "nothing happened," then ask why I'm interested in mixing things when they don't react spectacularly. Sheesh.

-DTM

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 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Non-chemistry » Legal and Societal Issues » Science project prompts SD school evacuation Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues   » Detritus   » Test Forum