Youth Radio is a terrific youth media organization that teaches journalism, production, and tech to underserved young people aged 14-24. I hang out at their Oakland studio some and always have a great time. The kids are very bright, curious, passionate, and really funny. And they crank out great content for National Public Radio, local stations, and of course streaming online. Recently, we were talking about how the media can help bring science to life by conveying how wonderful and weird the natural and engineered world can be. So we came up with Brains & Beakers, a series where I bring in a scientist or engineer to hang out at Youth Radio for a couple hours doing demos, presenting, and answering questions. The students document the whole thing and produce media from it.
For the first Brains & Beakers, my friend Tom Zimmerman was kind enough to join us. Tom is a research scientist at IBM Almaden who is probably best known as the inventor of the Nintendo Powerglove. (I profiled Tom in MAKE Vol. 4) These days, Tom's still an avid maker who builds things like electronic drum kits from plumbing parts, cheap microscopes for backyard biology, and a slew of other fun projects. Tom had a blast at Youth Radio, jamming on his PVC drum kit with the students and exploding a plastic bottle filled with hydrogen. Check out Youth Radio for video and audio from the evening. As their t-shirt says, "I hecka love Youth Radio." "Brains and Beakers: Inventors and Explosions!" (Thanks, Lissa Soep and Erik Sakamoto!)