Candy-ass vice-principal calls the bomb squad over an 11-year-old's science project, recommends counselling for the student

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182 Responses to “Candy-ass vice-principal calls the bomb squad over an 11-year-old's science project, recommends counselling for the student”

  1. Ugly Canuck says:

    So…What did this child learn at school on the day in question?

    Whatever she learned, I’ll bet it was unintended.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lovely. Harm kids so the adults can try out their toys.

  3. Bill Albertson says:

    This is a problem with schools in California- hiring people trained only to be administrators, instead of promoting up teachers into administration roles.

    Administrators being placed nowadays don’t have any real teaching experience, aren’t in love with the profession of teaching, and in the case of this TECH SCHOOL VP, couldn’t tell the difference between a bomb and a motion sensor. Most of them could best be described as runners up for MBA school who instead graduated with a specialization in school administration. Every teacher I have spoken to who works at one of these schools which have a “professional” administrator in charge HATES their work environment, and complains about how the level of stupid just keeps going up.

    I would say that the CTA should do their job for once and start pushing for teachers to be put back in charge of education, but unfortunately I haven’t seen a compromise yet that the CTA hasn’t rolled over for with a smile and said, “Pat my belly!”. I guess until the teachers themselves stage a palace revolt within their own union, there is just going to be more of the same stunning incompetence being passed on in leadership by example, or at least by the Peter Principle.

  4. Bill Albertson says:

    Oh, and here is a copy of the policy that the student somehow violated:

    http://www.mtechmiddle.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=58810&type=d&termREC_ID=&pREC_ID=87933&hideMenu=1&rn=6060686

    Nice to see that the press is up on checking their sources. Nowhere do I see in the school policy any reference to bringing electronics to school, or personal tech projects to school, or anything of that nature being prohibited or considered suspicious activity.

    I wonder if the vice principal has even read his/her own policy?

  5. Hattmannen says:

    If I was that kid I would feel pretty let down by everyone. School, authorities… That’s not a good lesson to teach a young kid. You can’t trust the authorities to do the right/sensible thing.

    If I’m not altogether to scared to ever build something again, maybe next time I will build a bomb…

  6. warreno says:

    When I was in HS, a friend of mine was an avid amateur blacksmith. He got better with practice; one of his long-term projects, for instance, was the forging of a broadsword.

    He got some useful advice from a teacher who was also a blacksmith-hobbyist, and he brought in a hand-forged 6″ dagger once, looking for suggestions on what went awry when he acid-etched a pattern in the blade.

    Can you begin to imagine what would happen to that same kid, shot ahead in time a quarter century?

    There is no more violence taking place on school campuses lately than there ever was before. Incidents of mass violence at schools are actually lower than they were, say, 50 or more years ago. We just have better media coverage now, so everyone hears about them immediately.

    “Zero tolerance” policies and overreactions are the wrong path to take. The kid might have made a snotty comment that spooked the VP, but calling the bomb squad was probably over the top.

    I don’t think it’s the kid that needs counseling here.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “The school, which has about 440 students in grades 6 to 8 and emphasizes technology skills…”

    So a vice principal at a school which focuses upon technology skills is apparently so clueless regarding technology that they suspect an empty plastic bottle with some wires attached is a bomb. Sounds like maybe they go need to work at a different school.

  8. Tedsville says:

    Dear me, Im afraid it seems Corey’s predictions of distopia a’la Little Brother are slowly but surely becoming a reality…

    But seriously though this is f***ing ridiculous, although my country (UK) isnt exactly an icon of freedom and privacy, this just takes the bloody biscuit, so to say…

  9. Anonymous says:

    I wish to god I could find a link to that Bloom County strip where Oliver Wendel Jones brings a fully functioning Atom Bomb to the Science Fair that he made from scraping the radium off of thousands of wristwatches.

  10. Snig says:

    I think the VP should have his cell phone, ipod and home electronics taken away, and be forced to drive a 1970′s era car. Not one of the cool ones. And have to write on the blackboard 100 times “I will not automatically fear what I don’t understand”. Poor kid.

  11. eerie_glow says:

    The school policy includes a blanket provision, in the section on Socially Responsible Behavior:

    “Socially Responsible Behavior includes, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO the following:… [emphasis added].” this is followed by a list of examples. With the “not limited to,” any behavior deemed to be anti-social could be sanctioned under this one. And since nobody could ever anticipate every crazy thing some student might possibly dream up to do, they have to have some broad policy to cover the unexpected.

    There’s no proof that this was the provision invoked, but at least it looks reasonable. For my part, I’d still need to know more about what the device looked like (and the kid’s history, and demeanor when talking to the VP, police, and fire dep’t) before passing judgment on anyone–kid, VP, or other authorities.

  12. asuffield says:

    One can only hope that the school will shortly be receiving a fine for “wasting police time”.

  13. ausPPC says:

    *Groan!* I watched October Sky some time ago – I can just imagine that VP’s skeleton leaping out of his own mouth if he’d had to deal with a Homer Hickam…

  14. ethicalcannibal says:

    I am horrified that this happened to the kid and his family. Like a lot of folks, I made some cool stuff as a middle and high school student. One of them was a homemade machete to help cut down weeds on my parents property. That would have been a huge issue these days, I suppose.

    I really like that people are coming together here to support the child, and their family. I wish more had happened for that gal, Star?, at the Boston airport.

    In that vein, isn’t it time some prominent makers got together to form a support forum for this kind of thing? It’s not harassing the school officials to politely email them that what they did was ridiculous, and counterproductive to education. In fact, it would be wonderful if a group got together with resources to help folks that ran home science shops, student science experiments, etc, that were wrongfully panicked over. Like an EFF for makers. I think the ideas to support the child are fantastic.

    It seems like today, everyone raised the flag of columbine or 9/11, but that’s no reason to persecute bright individuals that weren’t a threat to begin with. There’s reasonable, and then there’s this.

    • gollux says:

      Yep, add to that the drop point Chef’s knife set I made between wood and metal shop in highschool. Cut from bandsaw blade, straightened and tempered. Hardwood shell handles. Should have sent my shop teachers to prison for letting me make such destructive weapons in a school. The largest one was 10 1/2 inches, four in all. I still have and use them.

  15. Etaoin Shrdlu says:

    Count me as another of those dinosaurs who’d have joined his high school chemistry teacher in the federal pen for our learning experience. I didn’t go into chemistry, but his attitudes to exploration led me into a career in technology.

    How much do you want to be that the vice-principal is a “Professional Educator” with no real science background?

    As a nation we need to be encouraging hands-on adventurism in science and technology. The path to the moon went through the garages of home scientists. The wings over the planet came out of a bicycle shop. We NEED adventurous minds and we’re “educating” a generation of administrators and salesmen.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I’m not defending this, but they did only evacuate the school after talking to the kid. Either he said something that led them to believe that he’d built something dangerous; they were going to do it anyway; or the kid, like me, is a little wise-ass who said something like “oh of COURSE it’s a bomb, tactical nuke, built it myself. Gatorade is the key ingredient” and they took it to heart.

    The point is that they did actually speak to the kid before they went all nuts, so maybe there are parts of the story that we aren’t hearing.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I can think of all kinds of legimate reasons why a kid might bring a motion detector to school.

    I can also think of all kinds of dangerous pranks a kid might perpetrate with a motion detector to school.

    I plead insufficient data to know which is which. So I’m not going to harass any school officials via email or Internet until I know the full story, nor fund a kid who may be either a future genius inventor or future hacker until I know which.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad I grew up in the 70′s/80′s. If I’d build at school today what I did during that time I would be arrested once a week.

    I have no memory of children becoming terrorists because they knew how to build things, but there are tons of examples of governments fearing too smart people because they’re harder to shepherd.

  19. christopherdrew says:

    This might be a dumb question, but I can’t seem to figure out: what was the kid actually trying to build? I’m just curious, and all I can get from the article is some wires and a half-empty bottle of gatorade…

  20. Fifth says:

    So it’s ‘against the rules’ to do science… at a science magnet school? What?

  21. Micah says:

    Before people go writing hate mail to the vice principals at this school, don’t you think we should find out the whole story? For all we know, the kid said something that implied he had a bomb or something. Maybe not (especially since there’s no disciplinary action), but I find it hard to believe that even the dumbest vice principal would evacuate an entire school over a harmless science project without at least investigating a little into what it was.

    • Ambiguity says:

      I find it hard to believe that even the dumbest vice principal would evacuate an entire school over a harmless science project without at least investigating a little into what it was.

      I am envious of the reality you inhabit! Would it be that mine was so rational and reasonable….

  22. christopherdrew says:

    …okay, I’m dumb, maybe I should read the beginning of the article before posting, right?

  23. Grahamers2002 says:

    Not to rain on a part of your parades, but the story makes it clear this is his “personal” science project. Translation: It was some electronic device he made that he brought to school to show his friends without the school expecting electronic devices to be there. We don’t have a picture so we don’t know what it looked like. the story clearly syas that what he did was against school policy.

    So what do we have? We have an 11 year old showing up unexpectedly with an electronic device that at least ONE person thought was a bomb and that the police had enough suspicions of to use their robot to x-ray it.

    I think you should 1) document what the school policy is and 2) get pics of the device before you rush to judgment here.

    I suspect that once those two items are delivered, we may be justified in arguing against the policy or arguing for modification of the policy, but we will not be justified in prematurely criticizing a person in charge of child safety who was doing what he/she thought was right.

    Let the flaming begin.

    PS: Isn’t it convenient that the Boing Boing headline just said it was a “science project” without clarifying that it was a “personal science project?” Isn’t it fair to assume that that was done intentionally?

    • epo says:

      OK, I’ll bite, your pathetic attempt at making excuses for this jackass VP is almost as contemptible the VP’s knee jerk panic attack.

      Using the police’s action as part justification is ridiculous, they had to follow up on the initial report, *they* had no choice. The VP had the option of exercising some common sense. What is the likelihood that a child suicide bomber would appear at an American School? Why not just ask the kid what he had with him and why he brought it?

      “Land of the free and home of the brave”? I don’t think so.

    • Anonymous says:

      Go to the school website. Check the page about policies.

      No policy against bringing in home electronics projects.

      Either the vice principal is incorrect, the vice principal is lying to save face, or the policy is secret, it seems.

    • cabledog66 says:

      This is a school of SCIENCE. The 11th comment before yours, did post a link to the school’s policy in question and it does not state anything about projects to school – whether they be assigned or not.

  24. VagabondAstronomer says:

    Everything about the name of the school (“Millennial”? “Tech”?) screams that the kids going there should be doing EXACTLY WHAT THAT KID DID! How about we all chip in and get him not just a kit but a suscription to “Make” as well?
    And counseling? For this?!? What sort of stuff would they have made my family go through if when I was eleven they discovered what I did for fun (model rockets, electronics, oh, yeah, and the 1974 equivalent of circuit bending? This child doesn’t need counseling, he needs praise.

  25. Alethea says:

    Id rather someone more official did it but can anyone tell me how I could go about setting up something so we can show the kid our appreciation.

    I have no experience in such matters but it would be a terrible shame if this just dies along with the front page. Alternatively:

    [b]BoingBoing set something up, please![/b]

  26. teufelsdroch says:

    Before you start flaming the school, try looking around its home page for a bit. It looks like a really cool school. The vice principal overreacted, but did so with the students’ safety in mind.

    • demidan says:

      You know the quality of a school,(or any other organization), by it’s actions not by it’s mission statement. Their actions negate your assumed coolness by calling the bomb squad. Flame away!

  27. weeklyrob says:

    Maybe there’s more information than what’s in the article, but I didn’t read it as the vice-principal recommending counseling “to help them overcome their anti-social science behavior.”

    I read it as the police recommending that the kid and parents get counseling because:

    –”He was very shaken by the whole situation, as were his parents,” Luque said.–

    It’s already a ridiculous situation, let’s not assume it’s even more ridiculous than it is.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I doubt very much that this child violated school policy. The reporter should have asked to see the school policy. More importantly it is not the child and his family that needs counsuling but, rather the school officials who are pressing the mater. No doubt these are the same peopl who espouse the opinion that terrorists should be talked to and negotiated with. Officials like these are far worse than terrorists, and as a society it is time that we fight back.

  29. Anxst says:

    And we wonder why so few kids want to grow up to be engineers?

  30. COD says:

    In fairness to Corey, the headline on the article is “Science project prompts SD school evacuation.” I missed the part about it being an extracurricular effort the first time I read it.

  31. Anonymous says:

    My downstairs neighbors used to play the radio WAY too loud when I was a kid. Shake the furniture loud. So I built an FM jammer using one of those 150-in-1 kits from Radio Shack. Its range was essentially limited to my house and worked best when leads were attached to the pipes (radiator heat).

    Could you imagine what would happen if I was a child today and took something like that to school?

  32. adrianna.jackson says:

    Why am I not surprised? I teach at a CC here in California, I see the end product of the California educational system every semester. If there is a ‘flame genius’ mixed in the system, they quickly stomp it out. Most of my students learned one thing, how to pass the state/federal tests, which sums up what they are teaching in high school! My recommendation is place the kid in a private school!

  33. Anonymous says:

    The people that need counseling are the VP and the cops.

    And yes tapo, you are right. That is such a sensationalistic quote you used
    “A MAST robot took pictures of the device and X-rays were evaluated. About 3 p.m., the device was determined to be harmless”
    Oh wait, no it isn’t

  34. Heartfruit says:

    To be fair to the authorities in question the story does specify that they talked to the student before the decision to evacuate the school was made. I can only imagine that he was either uncooperative or said something questionable. Both of which would not be surprising coming from a bright 11 year old experiencing his first accusation of being a mad bomber.

  35. Anonymous says:

    It’s time to drop all terrorist training science classes from American schools.

  36. bander.bramblegrub says:

    What I find particularly creepy about the story are these two items:
    1) “they also found electrical components in the student’s backpack” Ummm. So? Is this some sort of smoking gun?

    2) “fire officials also went to the student’s home and checked the garage to make sure items there were neither harmful nor explosive” So, they searched the family home after determining that the electronics project was harmless. What possible cause could they have to do this? “We’ve got nothing on him here, but maybe he’s got some Semtex in his garage!”

  37. Anonymous says:

    This principle needs some cluestick counseling. Also: remedial science classes until he can tell a motion detector from a bomb.

    It’s against school policy to do science experiments? And to have electronics equipment in a backpack? Scary stuff.

    I’m down with the Make idea. That would be a great response to this nonsense.

  38. Kev says:

    Things like this are precisely the reason that administrators should be required to teach a class every day. Get these people out of the ivory tower and into a classroom, and they’ll be a lot more in touch with what’s really going on in education today, not to mention that they’ll have a lot less time to sit around and make silly decisions like this.

    (As others have said, the fact that this was at a science magnet makes the VP’s actions all the more shameful.)

  39. phoomp says:

    Ok, so the kid’s bottle and electronics were part of a personal project, not a class project. And, in these days of paranoia and the TSA teaching us that water can blow up airplanes, any kind of container with wires attached looks like a bomb. Aside from making the VP look paranoid, how did this violate school policy?

    So, the VP calls the bomb squad. Fair enough. And, it was determined to be harmless. Why did both the VP and police recommend counseling for the kid and parents? Because the kid has initiative to create his own extra curricular projects? Should we quell that initiative now?

    Oh, and this is a “tech” school? I have to imagine that this school is *full* of kids tinkering with electronics.

  40. JohnnyQuest says:

    (At risk of being off-topic and naggy, please read the comments before you post, people! These comments are rife with repetition and questions/comments that have already been addressed. For example, Rick York wants info about the VP’s – check comment #39 [Sorry, Antinous!]. And comment #119 claims that we’re “all missing” that this is a tech magnet school – how about comments #3, #9, #29, #33, #39, #46, #60, #61, #65, #84, #85 and #87, for starters? Sheesh.)

    I wanted to mention (as a teacher) that the school’s policies aren’t all on the website (nor, probably, could they be). While that info page linked above has some basics (and especially the info that parents might want to know), it mentions nothing about homework policies, attendance policies, gum chewing, use of electronic devices (USUALLY referring to phones, PSP’s and iPods), or policies relating to school events like dances or sports. These are all things that schools must deal with on a daily basis, and in my experience, most schools say electronic devices are not to be used on campus. (Yes, even cell phones. You need to make a call? Go to the office. Your mom has to call you in an emergency? She can call the office, too – you’re busy right now.) It’s likely that the kids were being furtive because of this kind of policy, making the admin more suspicious.

    My guess is that (as others have said) we are not hearing all the details. The line in the story that confounded me most is:
    “After talking to the student, it was decided about 1 p.m. to evacuate the school as a precaution while the item was examined.”

    This tells me that the interview didn’t satisfy the cops, so I’ll sit in camp with those who say the student might’ve said something smart-alecky. Also, 440 kids is not very big for a 3-year middle school; did the VP know this kid, and think there might be a problem? (That’s not the kind of thing that they would say to reporters…)

    (Sorry, too many parentheses in this post!)

    • Bill Albertson says:

      Not all policies may be on the website, but the policies that apply to the kids must be accessible to them, or there can’t be a reasonable expectation that the kids will follow them, or that the parents will enforce them. Those policies are clearly delineated on the school website. Expecting the kid and his parents to magically know about some other policy not mentioned on the site is hardly reasonable. That would include referencing a school handbook, etc, on the website as well.

    • Halloween Jack says:

      No offense, Johnny, but if that’s your attitude then I don’t think that I’d care to have my (theoretical) kids attend a school that you administered. You’re harrumphing about hypotheticals while ignoring what we do know, which is that some administrator flipped out because a kid brought technology to a tech school. If that school is doing its job, those kids should have their pockets so stuffed full of gear and tools that they all look like teenage Borg. That’s the whole fucking point of having a tech school, not to crank out yet another crew of obedient consumer drones who happened to have been required to take shop class.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Parents,

    This school/principle event is but one example of why YOU (since you are reading this) are probably a much better teacher than any of the government school staff.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Is it ironic that the school actually has TECH in it’s name?

  43. lovelokest says:

    Wow, more than a little bit of an overreaction on the part of the vice-principle. I shudder to think what he would have done with my chemistry and physics classes in high school where our teacher taught us to make work’s bombs and fertilizer bombs. We actually made the work’s bomb, but not the fertilizer bomb…

  44. Zachery Norman says:

    Yeah, that’s wonderful. I’m a seventeen year old high school drop out who just picked up a GED and I’m on track to attend the University of Connecticut. The total incompetence of American schools and the people who run them is why I decided to drop out with a 4.0 GPA.

    Coincidentally, this is the first time I’ve physically face palmed, as well as the first time I’ve bothered to comment on boingboing. Even ignoring the over the top “trolling for hits” vibe I’m getting from this articles author, it’s moments like these that make me fear for the future of our country.

  45. bshock says:

    As much as I despise the description of this vice principal, I have no interest in any individual who is so completely idiotic and wrong-headed.

    However, I like the idea of doing something positive to support this student and his future creativity. Various comments have suggested various things. If the BoingBoing community can find some way to reach consensus on such an action, I’m sure I’m not the only reader who would be willing to contribute money towards it.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Parents need to sue.

    Sue sue sue.

    It’s the only thing that causes behavior change in public institutions.

  47. Thac0 says:

    This makes me sad more than i can really say. I’m ashamed for people that think kids science projects are bombs and the like. I wish there was something we could do to fight against this creeping paranoia and foolishness.

    Imagine what would have happened if he had LEDs that looked like cartoon characters holy crap!

  48. Anonymous says:

    This is obviously one of those tech schools that thinks “tech” means a Windows logo on the screen and an Intel logo on the box. Everything else? Airplanes? Cars? Ipods? Magic!

  49. Anonymous says:

    Look, I agree that the VP probably overreacted. He most likely could have diffused the situation (no pun intended) before calling the cops. The problem/reality is that schools have been the scenes of very serious acts of violence in the past decade. Administrators are forced to walk a difficult line. If they act too cautiously we accuse them of being draconian. But as soon as something bad happens we yell: “Where was the principle? Why didn’t they see the ‘signs’?!” Before you heap your righteous indignation on this guy, think about what you would be shouting if this device had been a bomb, and the principle didn’t do anything to investigate.

  50. Steve Schnier says:

    When I was a kid, I had an amazing teacher who encouraged learning through exploration. He left science books featuring exciting experiments open around the classroom, knowing that we’d find them. We launched home-made rockets, we flew model airplanes, we experimented with acids… He was one of those teachers that you never forget. He made learning fun.

  51. Antinous / Moderator says:

    To me the most fascinating part of this is how many commenters don’t know the difference between principal and principle. Twitchy vice-principals are clearly not the only problem with our educational system.

  52. Anonymous says:

    I propose that we all mail any miscellaneous unneeded circuit boards we might have to that vice principal.

  53. Anonymous says:

    This is a major CYA by the district. I wonder why no mention of the disturbing papers that were found (threatening students), or similar items/schematics for other “devices” found at his home?

    If this were a simple “misunderstanding” with some genius budding scientist, the district would not have recommended counseling both for the kid and his parents, nor would they have closed down the school. There is way more to this story than what was fed to the media.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I want to build on Grahamers2002′s point adding the article also clearly states that the cops were called after talking to the boy about the project. It doesn’t say what was discussed but one can assume the kid did not ease their fears. And while perhaps no middle schools have been blown up there have been some rather infamous school shootings where – after the fact – administrators and teachers were raked over the coals for missing early warning signs. Finally I don’t think there is enough info in the article to determine if the vice principle acted wisely or foolishly.

  55. billstewart says:

    Glad nobody treated us like that in junior high school – most engineers I know liked to blow stuff up when we were kids, and while they wouldn’t have found explosives at my house, that was because we built them over at Dave’s :-) We were all pretty careful and responsible (though one of our crew left some nitrogen tri-iodide drying where his sister got at it and burned her finger.)

  56. Baldhead says:

    It never says what the counselling is for. Also, it never says the VP talked to the student, but implies it was the police. Who may or may not have been making an effort to not scare the crap out of the kid. I read the school policy and if bringing an electronic device is against it it must be written in code. There isn’t even a line about not bringing real weapons in there. So the VP apparently is doing like many in low level authority and making up rules to follow in their mind (see: london police vs photographers)

  57. Blue says:

    I see people as this pea-brained VP as a sort of safety mechanism for the world.

    When a culture achieves a certain level of sophistication and power, if that culture didn’t have idiots like this acting against the will to explore and invent, that society would rise to an unprecedented and insurmountable scientific dominance over all other societies.

    By smacking kids like this over the head for their pesky ingenuity and desire to explore, assholes like the Vice Principle are safety-valves for the good of all mankind; reigning back the (in this case American) hegemony and giving other civilizations us a shot at being top dog.

    Well done America! Who says you have no sense of fair play?

  58. Anonymous says:

    Jeez! That kid’s social life just got gutted. Way to strip away a child’s passion for creativity.

  59. Alethea says:

    I don’t know how to set things up or who to contact, if Cory or someone similar is reading this far then set up a donation box with the aim of buying the kid some stuff from Make.

    I’ll chip in £5, if a few other people do we can get them something fun.

  60. Doug Nelson says:

    When I think of what an 11-year old might need with a motion detector hooked to a bottle at a school, the first few possibilities that pop into my mind are not necessarily benign. In fact, “locker prank” features in my top 3 ideas. While it might just squirt water or release sulphur dioxide, nowadays you never know. And I’d have to assume a principal would know the kid’s history.

  61. simonbarsinister says:

    Seriously, I want to send this kid a message that exploring his ideas is great – to counteract the message he has already gotten that he should shut up and watch TV like the rest of the sheep or “the authorities” will harass him.

    But I don’t want him to get 100 subscriptions to “Make”, 100 Electronics Kits, 100 Robot Kits, etc.

    Let’s make a list and send him a nice “congratulations for being inquisitive” with some goodies. Here’s a start:

    1. Subscription to Make magazine
    2. Introduction and tour of a local “HackerSpace”

    If Dan is reading this (careydw (at) gmail.com) perhaps a tour of the San Diego “HackerSpace” would be nice. Also a tour of the Fullerton “HackerSpace” (contact arclight (at) 23.org)

    3. A gift certificate to a Robotics Kit supply company
    4. Perhaps a brief email interview for here (BoingBoing). What was he building? What are his interests?
    5. A copy of 50 dangerous things you should let your children do
    6. An introduction to Gever Tulley. (Does anyone reading this know him?)

    And of course, make sure the fear-driven anti-educators at his school know the kid is being praised and they are being reviled for this.

    The costs for these things are minimal and the message it sends is great. Let’s do it! I’m in for whatever I can do.

  62. Anonymous says:

    What exactly is the reason for anti-social counseling? Sounds like the kid has a healthy like of science. May I be so bold to suggest that the vice principle should join the unemployed.

  63. Anonymous says:

    fear eats brain. whenever you can dream up a terrible explanation to a situation you don’t immediately understand, fsck up badly. nothing can beat the gore of your imagination.

    .~.

  64. FailedTheTuringTest says:

    Although this sounds incredibly dumb, I can guess what was going through the VP’s mind: seven months ago, a student in another San Diego school successfully detonated five “bombs” that he made using Gatorade bottles.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/jun/06/1m6bottle00527-student-arrested-3-blasts-school/?metro&zIndex=111931

    with that fairly fresh in authorities’ minds, their reactions to the Millenial Tech student are a bit more understandable. I do think they overreacted (especially by searching the kid’s home — once the bottle he had at school was determined to be harmless, they had absolutely no grounds for searching his house!) but I can understand the connection they might have drawn.

  65. Anonymous says:

    And I thought educators had to be educated… It seems like we’re trying to beat the last bit of interest in science out of our children all the time wondering why we’re falling behind the rest of the world.

  66. pinehead says:

    Cory wrote:
    “(though he did recommend that the child and his parents get counselling to help them overcome their anti-social science behavior).”

    Nowhere in the report did it say the student and his family were recommended counseling of that nature. The suggestion of counseling itself was brought up by “authorities,” most likely because of how shaken the student and his parents were after this whole situation.

    The way the report is written suggests the evacuation of the school was ordered by the Fire Department, not the Vice Principal.

    The VP was a dullard for calling the authorities (and I’d wager the cost of their visit will come out of his pay), but most of what went on was in the hands of the Fire Dept, not the school faculty. So if you’re going to cry wolf, at least try not to point at one of the sheep as you do so.

  67. Francesco Fondi says:

    The Land of Freedom…

  68. Ian70 says:

    If the kid is smart enough to build his own motion detector at home he’s probably smart enough to find this discussion about his situation. In fact I kinda HOPE he’s following this thread. And if so:

    Hey kid! Good on ya for the homemade electronics. Not everybody out there is call-the-goddamn-police afraid of what they don’t know about, like the VP is. I sure hope that you’ve got a whole lot of street cred with the other kids at the school over this whole thing. After all, you bought them a whole afternoon off! They should buy you some pizza.

  69. Xopher says:

    Just to let you all know: if you think the school was right in this, or that this vice principal did not massively overreact, you are a moron.

    That is all.

  70. Viadd says:

    The police captain was derelict in his duty. He should have ordered one of his snipers to take out the kid. Better safe than sorry when dealing with terrorists.

  71. Anonymous says:

    So, why search the parent’s home after they determined that there was no threat?

    Very simple. They knew they had acted incorrectly. they were desperate to find a justification for their missteps, and they assumed that the parents were like most parents… unaware of the law and in violation of it. They were fishing to cover their asses and they failed.

    I will be watching this story. I hope to see some officials fired or pressured into public apologies and revised policies. I also hope that the parents bring a civil rights suit. There can be no doubt that this sort of policy contravenes our rights, and whether they are ‘sue-ers’ or not, they have been put out front in representing the rights of *all* of us.

    So, unless these parents were so unaware of the law that they invited the authorities in to sniff at their laundry, I see no way that this can be justified. And even then, the idea of bringing secret terrorism law against a child is an extreme intimidation. I think they would have grounds to sue even if they did allow the search. I am nearly penniless, but I would give money to aid in such a lawsuit, for the good of my nation.

  72. johnny payphone says:

    When I was in college, I sent out an email about dangerous levels of “di-hydrogen monoxide” on our campus. The science professors all groaned but the dean called in the cops.

  73. Anonymous says:

    Geesh! Why didn’t the staffer simply walk over and ask, “What’s this, tell me about it?”

    Did he/she make act to move the other students away..?

  74. Daemon says:

    In slightly related news, I want to print up that picture onto business cards and hand them out during the Olympics.

    But not enough to risk the tazer-death that would be likely to follow.

  75. Anonymous says:

    When I was in school in the 80′s there were several pipebombs detonated at a school in our district (three if I recall correctly) on different days during lunch hours. Our school responded with heightened vigilance. The only time my school was evacuated was when a ticking was heard coming from a locker. The ticking turned out to be a Walkamn (without auto-stop) that had been set up to give birthday wishes in someone’s locker.

    School was evacuated, bomb squad came out to open and inspect the locker, bomb squad left, school continued.

    These days? Someone would’ve been arrested.

  76. stuhfoo says:

    idiots

    Millennial Tech Magnet Middle School <<< shouldn’t these sort of projects be more than normal at a magnet school of TECHNOLOGY

    “The student will not be prosecuted, BUT authorities were recommending that he and his parents get counseling, the spokesman said”

    what could it be if not for being nerds? (nothing wrong withat)”we’re not going to prosecute you but pls get professional help for you problems” – the author should have worded this better imo

  77. Anonymous says:

    I have taught technology in high school. My principle had never been in a school shop, had never taught school, had no technical knowledge. When my students installed a computer lab built from recycled computers he chastised me for teaching outside my specific specialty, and using old junk. When the kids chose their own projects he told me that I must choose them because when they get a job they will be told what to do. When we hand forged traditional root diggers he said, “you like old things”. When shown a completed vice and student built stand he asked “what will it be when it’s finished?” Whenever my kids did something really cool I got in trouble. Creativity is actively discouraged. A creative technologically literate teacher is an alien. It’s a page out of pedagogy of the oppressed. “Thus they react almost instinctively against any experiment in education which stimulates the critical faculties and is not content with a partial view of reality always seeks out the ties which link one point to another…”

  78. CANTFIGHTTHEDITE says:

    I’ve passed on my positive words of support for the student via the school’s email drop, and I hope y’all do the same.

  79. Anonymous says:

    Oh my lord. I can only imagine if the kid had brought in a volcano demonstration. He’d probably be in Gitmo.

  80. cabledog66 says:

    Candy-ass, is putting it a bit mildly. It’s a school based on science, what a frickin crock. The kids parents should be filing a law suit, even if its just for emotional compensation.

    With idiots like candy-ass running the schools these days, sounds like science should just stop being taught in the US. But then where will all our drs, scientists and researchers come from? OH wait, Welcome to the United States, a wholly owned subsidiary of China.

  81. ill lich says:

    Uh oh. . . wait until the principle finds out his own computer and television are filled with electronic parts: they might be bombs too!!

  82. Alethea says:

    I’m also thinking it would be good if as many of the schools kids saw this thread as possible… the VP has a new nickname :)

  83. ryane says:

    1st. They have an I-brary. It’s called a library, stop doing it wrong.

    2nd. This kid knowing engaged in violating the school policy against fabrication and alteration of equipment. Sounds like an anti-Makers manifesto.

    3rd. It’s in that place that I put that thing that time.

    • A Nonny Moose says:

      @ryane: RE: 2nd; Please quote and provide a link to the portion of the school policy that this kid “knowing (sic) engaged in violating”.

      Thank You.

      • ryane says:

        It’s under their academic honesty policy. My tongue was firmly planted in my cheek. See the link by Bill Albertson for the full text.

  84. Anonymous says:

    Now that I think about it, a great TV show like McGuyver would probably never get approved if it were being pitched today in our “9/11 era”. Too many ingenious ideas for potential terrorists!

  85. Anonymous says:

    That’ll teach him to be creative. He should have measured the effect of colored light on houseplants instead like the rest of us.

  86. Zandr says:

    I’m guessing the suggested counseling is to deal with the fact that this VP’s actions have probably traumatized this kid and rattled the family a bit.

    Even if the authorities aren’t seeking to recover costs (from the school, as I think they should), it seems like the school or the VP personally ought to step up to pay for that counseling.

  87. Anonymous says:

    Realizing this is an admission of a juvie criminal act well out of statute of limitations, I still am using tor AND NOT LOGGING IN.
    when I was in high school I was really into history especially anti-Nazi WW-II resistance. In the school metal shop I made a silenced STEN submachine gun from the stock of junk shop metal and blueprints.
    I was not dangerous to anyone except myself if I messed it up, I was curious to see if the account of partisans making these in car repair shops was realistic. After scrounging a handful of 9mm bullets from a friend who’s father was into guns we tested it by locking it into a bench vice and triggering it with string, it worked and sent the bullets a few inches deep into the newspaper pile target. It sounded like a lawn mower trying to start.
    I realized at that point I had made a real machine gun and what trouble I could be in especially if my pacifist parents found out. We used the vice and a hammer to flatten my STEN gun into a metal pancake and chucked smashed parts, the solid bolt, and partly flattened barrel into the river several miles apart.
    We were good kids but we did have something dangerous, not sure we should have any discipline or even counseling, except maybe some gun safety classes. Before that we had also played with chemistry and things that rocketed and exploded, with no thought EVER of violence. People need to be more open minded about kids, or maybe that is just old fashioned.
    Of course when I was in high school I was only given a evening or two of detention for shooting a flare gun in the school parking lot, so get off my damn lawn!

  88. chudez says:

    (American_Scientist_or_Engineer_ctr)–
    (H1B_Visa_Requirement)++

  89. virtualgeoff says:

    When I was in high school (back in the eighties) a kid I knew bought a *real* bomb to school. It was a pretty simple PVC pipe bomb, with an electrical detonator. Our science teacher found out about it, and rather than panic, took the class down to the school oval, where the bomb was placed in a steel garbage bin and detonated. Blew the crap out of the bin. No one was hurt (or punished, as far as I know).

  90. Afterthought says:

    School is child abuse.

  91. Anonymous says:

    So there is a problem with this project because it was “personal”?? He did it on his own initiative, instead of building a school authorized kit? Well, this technology oriented school’s mission (see their website) is to develop the students “curiousity, motivation, and technical skills” to enable them to become “global leaders”. What is the quality of their staff that they could not understand the components and design of his device? Most importantly, how do you suppose this episode has affected this kid?

    “Millennial Tech Middle School’s Mission Statement:

    “All Millennial Tech Middle School students will cultivate their technology skills to enhance their motivation and curiosity to excel academically in order to become productive citizens that will drastically impact the developing information age.

    “All Millennial Tech Middle School students will cultivate their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills to enhance their motivation to excel academically in order to become global leaders and productive citizens in their chosen career path.”

  92. SB-129 says:

    Kid’s lucky he didn’t get burned for being a witch!

    But seriously, what is it where a shool of SCIENCE gets evacuated for someone doing SCIENCE?

    VP should be fired. Tarred. Feathered. Never work in his field again. Run outa town tied to his hoss!

  93. userw014 says:

    I shudder to think of what my father would have said about this.

    He was a teacher at a high school – sort of (librarian & coach, occasionally math and english.) His experience with school administrators and bureaucracy (in a small, rural system in the ’70s) was almost entirely negative – principals changing failing grades to passing ones “because they don’t need to know any of that – they’re going to work in an automobile factory or the family farm.”

    I want to accuse this (nameless) vice-principal of being one of those math & science challenged idiot who end up in management because they learn early on that they had to scheme and manipulate the system – because they weren’t able to excel (or even be adequate) in anything that didn’t involve making things up without any bearing on reality.

    Surely, that’s an unfair reaction.

    Or maybe this guy is an example of the “peter principle” and been promoted to his level of incompetence.

  94. anwaya says:

    Mr. Luque’s on Facebook. I think I’ll ask him which of the school’s policies he believes the student violated.

  95. user.von says:

    quote: “The student violated school policies”

    naaaa, sticking to the facts, objective sentence should be : “The student revealed vice-principal lunacy”

  96. Marchhare says:

    @Grahamers2002 34

    Amen and amen.

  97. Marchhare says:

    Though from the limited amount of information we have, the counseling bit sounds like BS.

  98. Anonymous says:

    Here’s the letter I sent. I encourage everyone else to send them similar ones to Millenial Tech Middle School.
    To Whom it May Concern:
    The Vice-Principal who was involved in the recent news story about a “suspected bomb” at your middle school owes the child, his parents, and the community a very public apology. Beyond spurring an unnecessary mobilization of critical city emergency services, this kind of paranoid behavior on the part of school officials discourages children from exploring sciences and technology outside of the classroom. While I fully understand the school’s top priorities must lie in protecting the safety of the students, this must be approached with common sense, which unfortunately, the Vice Principle in question did not appear to exhibit.The education system as a whole, and your school in particular has an imperative to be educating American children in 21st century skills. Instead of suggesting that the student seek counseling, I suggest offering a sincere apology as well as words of encouragement for the student’s ingenuity and creativity.
    Regards,
    Theodore Marks

  99. Anonymous says:

    Hi I’m a student at MTM .The lockdown was quite scary . Our vp mr.neil was scared as well as most of the staff and students . Most kids left during lockdown . the student that made that device didn’t go to school for about 3 days . People say he got in a lot of trouble .

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Potter (a teacher) said it was worse than a gatorade bottle with wires, and they lied saying there was ” an electrical wiring problem in the office” so in the late 6th period and the beginning of lunch they had us evacuate to the neighboring school’s dirt field…

  100. TheMadLibrarian says:

    What is it with people in quasi-authority running around “OMFGRUNHIDEWEREGONNADIE” whenever they see something they don’t comprehend? A little research before pushing the panic button might be in order:
    1. Did the kid have a track record of malicious pranks or other maladjusted behavior?
    2. Did anyone ask the kid “Hey, what’s this gizmo do?”
    3. If asked, did the kid cooperate?
    4. Was what the kid did specifically against written school policy?
    5. Isn’t this school, by implication, supposed to have some vague working knowledge of technology?

    Counseling might be helpful for the kid and parents to get over the extreme reaction of the VP and emergency squad, but I’d suggest it would also be good for anyone at the school who might deal with a scenario like this in the future. Common sense apparently isn’t.

    BTW, I knew Star Simpson, the MIT student who got arrested for weird blinky shirt lights several years back. Maybe a dumb stunt, but another case of way overkill. And we still fear a student project and miss the Crotchbomber.

  101. Anonymous says:

    So, what, you’re not allowed to use any kind of capacitors or resistors in a project? That’s bull.

    I hope that VP feels like an idiot, because he’d be right.

  102. Anonymous says:

    I’m happy to believe the police asked him if he had a bomb.

    I’m happy to believe that he cheeked them for asking such a blatantly idiotic question.

    I’m not so happy to believe that this cheeky answer is enough to evacuate a school and search him and his house though.

  103. Osprey101 says:

    Shouldn’t that be a new Science Scout badge? “For causing the evacuation of a public facility due to a device or mechanism of one’s own creation.” That’d be second class. First class would be awarded for the evacuation of a public facility AND having the police search your home (and finding nothing probative).

  104. gollux says:

    Welcome to America, land of the piss poor science majors and bed wetting school officials.

    Glad these people weren’t in power when I was in school, I’d be doing Federal Pen time according to their rules. Everything I tinkered with and built gave me the tools to build a career. Come to think of it, these school admin people probably are the frustrated fools that feel left behind because all their nerdy school mates who built electronic projects, wasted all that time programming and inventing worked up to six figure incomes or became independently wealthy.

  105. Matthew Sanborn Smith says:

    Poor kid. I hope this doesn’t sour him on making cool stuff. I feel like we’re dismantling our future.

  106. Anonymous says:

    A perfect example of the excessive paranoia people are exhibiting these days. Depressing yet so so amusing…

  107. jerwin says:

    POLICY is simply an excuse for authority figures to escape the moral and ethical consequences of making decisions.

    • Felton says:

      jerwin: POLICY is simply an excuse for authority figures to escape the moral and ethical consequences of making decisions.

      Well said.

  108. Anonymous says:

    Crazy. We don’t have anything to fear, just fear itself.

  109. ctp says:

    I just did some quick searching and found the school (Millenial Tech Middle School) and which VP it most likely was. Thinking about writing him an email. Sad, but typical, when the administration knows so little about the stuff being taught in the school that they could possibly mistake the kid’s project for a bomb…or that the teacher didn’t already know what the kid’s project was before he brought it to school.

  110. gollux says:

    Millennial Tech Middle School’s Mission Statement:

    All Millennial Tech Middle School students will cultivate their technology skills to enhance their motivation and curiosity to excel academically in order to become productive citizens that will drastically impact the developing information age.

    All Millennial Tech Middle School students will cultivate their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills to enhance their motivation to excel academically in order to become global leaders and productive citizens in their chosen career path.

    Well that got negated real fast…

    Make sure you have on your proper MTM Uniform to express your solidarity in bleating when your technology unencumbered administration tells you to follow the bellwether into the stock car.

  111. Anonymous says:

    Just when you think you have heard the story of the absolute most idiotic government school employee, along comes a guy like this…

  112. pupdog says:

    When I think of all the fun things I did in school that would get me in this kind of trouble today, it makes me sad my kid might not ever get the chance to do them…

  113. Anonymous says:

    The scariest thing about this: This is a TECH school and none of these people could tell that this was not a bomb.

  114. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand. It’s a SCIENCE project, how can that violate school policy if it’s the school itself that’s holding the science faire?

    Not sure what the process is for participating and submitting projects in some schools, but at my school you had to decide what you wanted to do and as you worked on it you showed the preliminary stuff, work in progress, etc. IF this school was lax with these procedures and the kid just showed up with a contraption i can see how some idiot could’ve freaked out and think it was a bomb.

    I still highly disagree with the school’s reaction and advising the family to seek help for their scientific interests. They should definitely sue.

  115. Anonymous says:

    They recommend that the student get counseling? What in the world for?

    Hell, I say give the vice principal counseling so he can get over this paranoia he has.

  116. mr_josh says:

    This makes perfect sense when you think about all of the middle schools that have been blown up in the last five years.

    Oh wait.

    The funny thing about this is, it’s take as seriously as “terrorist” threats are in airports. Except in airports and planes and centers of US power, we’ve actually had some evidence of people intending to do harm.

    But this incident -as far as we know- had no accompanying threat or obvious motive for the kid to do harm. Just the same, let’s evacuate the school and x-ray the poor kid’s backpack with a fuggin robot that was probably built by someone who would have loved the idea of a kid building his own motion detector!

    The VP should be hanged for this, but also the police force who apparently failed to ask: “IS THIS KID A THREAT?”

  117. Suburbancowboy says:

    MR. WIZARD WAS A TERRORIST!!!!
    Imagine if he was a live today? Every experiment he taught kids was “dangerous”….oooooooh.

    Perhaps the response was excessive, but in a “post Columbine. post 9/11 overly litigious era, you have to err on the side of caution if you are an administrator. If something did go wrong and kids were hurt, well, you know who would be to blame, and who would be getting sued.

    The part that got me the most though, was that after they determined it was not a bomb, they “checked the garage to make sure items there were neither harmful nor explosive.

    “There was nothing hazardous at the house,” Luque said.”

    Really? I find that hard to believe. If you go into pretty much any garage, you will find gasoline, motor oil, and maybe fertilizer and Roundup weed killer. Bomb ingredients and poison!!!!!!!

  118. Crawford Tillinghast says:

    Christ, now’s when I’m really really glad I graduated from high school well before that kid was even born.

  119. Felton says:

    Geez, my brother in law made a small railgun for a science project when we were in high school. I don’t remember any reactions stronger than “you made a gun?! Careful with that thing!”

  120. Mister Moofoo says:

    Sweet Mulberry Jesus, I hope that the kid’s parents sue that asshole.
    How hard is it to ask the kid what he has, before calling the police?
    And at a tech school, no less? Shouldn’t the administration at a tech school have some passing interest in technology? Maybe a little knowledge about it (okay, more than just a little)?

  121. tapo says:

    From summary “had the bomb-squad come out to destroy the student’s invention and search his parents’ home”

    From quoted part of the article “A MAST robot took pictures of the device and X-rays were evaluated. About 3 p.m., the device was determined to be harmless”

    This is why I’ve come to hate your posts on BB Cory. You tend to go for sensationalism and blowing things out of proportion instead of truth. They didn’t destroy this kid’s science project, even if the reaction was excessive.

  122. whomever says:

    So, is there a new anthem now, what with “home of the brave” no longer applying and all?

  123. Anonymous says:

    This administrator obviously had an extremely poor education in the sciences. Makes you wonder how he got his promotion to be an administrator and what subject he taught when he was a teacher.

  124. Anonymous says:

    I want to know what school has an outright ‘policy’ against robotics!

  125. Rick York says:

    ctp at #2: The VP is a public figure. Could you pass on his name and contact info? If you can’t pass it on, please tell us where to find him and the school board.

    There’s almost incessant talk among business and political leaders about how we’re lacking in engineering and science students.

    The VP and the school board should be in counseling. Or even better, fire their dumb asses.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Could you pass on his name and contact info?

      If you feel the need to harass someone, do your own research. We don’t do that here.

  126. davman says:

    Sometimes I wish the Spartans were around to police such pansies and push them collectively off a cliff. Same for the principles that don’t allow their kids to run during recess. Have we grown so pathetic?

  127. hbl says:

    Right to call this guy a candy-ass. What a pansy. Masking his ignorance with abject fear. If I was that dude, I would be drafting my letter of resignation.

  128. Rob Cruickshank says:

    Hysteria aside, a Gatorade bottle makes a nice, inexpensive, watertight enclosure for electronics. Just don’t take it to school, or the airport:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/84221353@N00/2069755921/

  129. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree that the kid needs counseling. Someone with a bit of empathy needs to explain to them why all of the adults in authority acted so irrationally, and that his project is exactly the kind of activity the school (Millenial Tech! oh, the irony) should be promoting.

  130. Anonymous says:

    wonder if the vp ever considered talking to the kid first..

  131. Anonymous says:

    that was my school!
    -Fiona

  132. mgfarrelly says:

    The key part of the story is where the kid and parents are “very cooperative”.

    Mad bombers don’t cooperate with authorities.

    Reads like the cops took every cautious step after a hell of a wind-up from the vice-principal. Did he not think of talking to the kid, or, at the most, giving his parents a call?

    When I was in high school I wrote a deeply creepy horror short story about an insane asylum, invisible monsters and copious amounts of blood. My teacher paid me the ultimate compliment of having two other teachers sit in and listen while I read the story in class. To this day that positive attention is something I still grin about.

    What’s this kid going to take away from this experience.

  133. MomentEye says:

    I’m all in favour of home-brew gadgetery but you don’t take a motion detector to school to show your friends.

    You take it to detect motion.
    And that suggests some sort of booby-trap to me.

    I have no doubt that it was some sort of childish prank that didn’t need this hoo-hah but I can totally imagine there being something more than a studious young scientist being persecuted by the VP of the Damned.

  134. Vidya108 says:

    Reading about this stupid prick of a principal makes me sorry that there are really no (non-homophobic) slurs for a man in our culture that are as harsh as the ones we use to describe stupid and nasty women. Because he needs, like, a hundred of them applied to his sorry ass in day-glo paint.

    • Russell Letson says:

      “there are really no (non-homophobic) slurs for a man in our culture that are as harsh as the ones we use to describe stupid and nasty women”

      At the risk of being vulgar, there’s always the venerable “chickenshit”–though that may be seen as gender-neutral. And perhaps offensive to domestic fowl.

  135. Anonymous says:

    So, how did it turn out? Is appropriate action being taken against the VP? Has the school board issued an official apology and made clear that they do in fact want kids to experiment and learn about technology in their school? What measures are being taken to ensure this kind of insanity never happens again? Keep us posted.

  136. TYR says:

    You know what’s genuinely sick here? The invocation of “counselling” – i.e. a form of psychiatric therapy. Counselling for what? What’s wrong with him? Who are these nameless “authorities” to make this decision? – and apparently they felt they could pronounce on the parents’ mental health as well.

    I believe this is a growing social threat, by the way – the UK government wants to make the unemployed undergo cognitive-behavioural therapy, because if you’re out of work you must obviously be SICK! It’s been going on with schools for some time – I recall it from the early 1990s.

    The key element is that it’s an all-purpose response – if you can’t think of an excuse to use *punishment*, wham! mandatory or pseudo-mandatory “counselling”! there’s something wrong with you and we’re going to fix you…we only want to help because we’re so concerned. Similarly, are you protesting in a noisy fashion? do you seem unhappy? Clearly there is something wrong with you and we need to fix you. At the very least, it’s one way of compelling kids (and anyone else) to turn up somewhere and answer intrusive questions.

  137. Michael Smith says:

    The boy in this case sounds like me. I built battery chargers and other devices for school projects. Of course our physics teacher was the type who could tell a resistor from a capacitor from an op amp so there was never a chance of the police being called, unless I really had made a bomb, of course.

  138. arnique says:

    Overkill. What’s so difficult about asking, ‘What is this mechanical device and what does it do, kid?’ then corroborating his story with the kid’s class adviser/science teacher?

  139. Alethea says:

    I think we should have a BoingBoing drive to send this kid an electronics kit from Make =)

    • David Carroll says:

      I second this idea Alethea.

      I actually agree that this student should be counselled. But I would choose Mark Frauenfelder to do it.

    • querent says:

      “I think we should have a BoingBoing drive to send this kid an electronics kit from Make =)”

      Word! I’d give a dollar! I really think this is an awesome idea, and should happen.

    • elix says:

      I would donate $20 to buy this kid a Make kit, or any of the other items listed by simonbarsinister. Can we get an official BB donation drive going?

    • Anonymous says:

      I emailed the school asking if we could route gifts such as this to the student via the school.

  140. pyrotmaniac says:

    Cory I cannot find a way to send you a message direct. If you have any way of getting ahold of this kids contact info. I want to hire him to build one of his motion sensors for me. That way hopefully he will learn that tech is cool and pays good. All that sort of thing. I’m willing to put $500 bucks down on it. thanks in advance. I assume you can get my email address from boingboing, thanks

  141. Anonymous says:

    This would be outrageous if it weren’t the hundredth+ example of it.

    How long until this is the commonplace default reaction? I worry with the rest of you.

  142. Marcel says:

    The vice-principal is probably conditioned to regard any activity a child undertakes on its own accord as highly suspect.

    And then when it starts meddling with technology, well now that’s just asking for trouble, isn’t?

    Now you know that showing initiative is the last thing they want you to do.

  143. Anonymous says:

    Everyone is missing the bit that this was at:

    Millennial Tech Magnet Middle School

    Yes, a magnet school for technology of all things!

  144. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Shouldn’t the administration at a tech school have some passing interest in technology?

    When I was in high school, ‘technical school’ was a euphemism for ‘place to store non-academic and miscreant adolescents’.

  145. LeFunk says:

    I’d love to use that image on a bomb.

    BTW – didn’t Harold Lloyd injure himself with a thingy that had BOMB written all over it?

  146. Anonymous says:

    Policy reads like he didn’t wear his Friday presentation uniform. That’s the only school policy I could find that could be easily violated.

  147. greengestalt says:

    How about a “We Won’t be Cheated” law…

    I mean, get petitions to put it on the ballot if something like that happens locally.

    The law basically states that if police, guard, firefighters, etc. are called unnecessarily- citing examples like this kid, the “Light bright” shutting down a city, etc. the taxpayer is NOT liable for any costs. In short, the police don’t get their overtime and any helicopter fuel, fees for advanced scanning equipment, etc. come out of their budget and if that means they can’t fuel their cars till next year, they buy gas or ride bikes. As long as it doesn’t push their salaries below minimum wage, it’s usually legal.

    It’d probably get overturned if passed, but the judge voting down would really hate the police for it (all the hate mail he’d get, possibly worse, such as future political damage) and likely ‘reject’ a few ‘requests’ for searches, etc. to punish them. However, seeing people petitioning for it and all the eager people signing it would scare the cops and the officials big time and they’d likely implement some “Reacting Reasonably” policies to try to stop it from getting on the vote.

    • coaxial says:

      I don’t see how punishing the police for this, or any other dubious bomb scare makes sense. The police get a call that says, “I think there’s a bomb here,” and then it turns out to be nothing. What, so the police should say, “Nah, I bet it’s nothing.”? That doesn’t make any sense. What if it was a bomb?

      No, what you mean is something like the “rescue cost recovery” laws that make you liable for the cost of rescuing you if you drive past the roadblock and into the swollen river. That would discourage dumb calls, but also would discourage legitimate, if ultimately unwarranted, calls. (i.e. Nullifying “If you suspect it, report it.”)

      Still, this principal is a panicky dip shit.

      • greengestalt says:

        Because the threat of overzealous police action is a form of tyranny.

        Imagine the embarrassment when someone gets “Uppity” on a plane and the whole thing gets turned around with fighter jets zooming around it on the way back, even though no threat was voiced? That threat of overwhelming force where a person really could get killed, along with being fined tens of thousands is used to shut people up to not complain over their treatment by an indifferent society full of Kafkaesque stupidity and petty, increasingly corrupt officials.

        Now, let’s say a petty principal does this, but the cops don’t have paychecks for doing it since it was “Stupid”… Well, they won’t and can’t not respond to the next one. But what they’ll do is take it out of the hide of the petty official, following him home every night and stopping him for anything until he has to pay more than his salary in insurance and has to walk/bus, etc. because they’ll follow any cab, any friend giving him a ride.

        A lot of good can be done for freedom if the system is used against itself. It’s in the “Rules for Radicals”, btw.

  148. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of laws, greengestalt, I’m starting to feel like the victims of these false alarms (i.e., wrongly misunderstood science students) should have a cause for defamation of some sort. It’s clearly harmful to the kid’s character to be falsely accused of building and bringing a bomb to school. And it is clearly based on extreme irresponsibility on the part of the vice-principal to make such an accusation.

  149. woid says:

    Why does this idiot vice principal deserve anonymity in the story?

    The only person named is someone from the San Diego FD, who’s the source for all the quotes. Everyone else is hidden under words like “the authorities,” “officials,” and “a spokesman” (presumably somebody other than the one who’s named).

    Nothing from the family members (who DO deserve to be anonymous, of course). They just possibly might have a different point of view. We’re just told, by “the spokesman,” that they were “upset” and “very shaken.”

    There’s absolutely no reason for journalists to let “authorities” hide… but they do it every day, from middle school on up to the federal government.

    It’s Franz Kafka’s world, we just live in it.

    • coaxial says:

      Well there are only two VPs at Millennial Tech Middle School. Heather Potter and Willie Neil. Your guess is as good as mine on which one is the panicky paranoid drone. (Sadly, I suspect they both are.)

    • slywy says:

      I’m with #20. Name names.

      When a cattle/pig truck overloaded with draft horse crashed in Wentworth, Illinois after the driver ran a light (IIRC), killing several horses and injuring most of the rest, the media flat-out refused to identify the owner and let the insurance company speak on his behalf. The survivors went to a horse-rescue place and were adopted out, but I get the impression the owner didn’t face charges and never took responsibility. The media hid his identity ostensibly to avoid jeopardizing the transfer of ownership. I doubt he was ever charged for the callous mistreatment of the horses and he’s still sitting in some palatial home, still getting rich off animals’ misery. The veterinarians and horse rescuers at the accident scene, I’m quite sure, would have loved to know the name.

  150. apullin says:

    I think it’s awful that this kid was doing something that wasn’t football, basketball, or video games. Producing is a very dangerous and uncertain thing; we should really limit kids, and all people, only to consumer. That’s safer.

    I mean, come one, where has homebrew American ingenuity ever gotten us?

  151. Jawbone Minding says:

    Uh… did they search the parents’ house before or after the project was determined not to be a bomb? If before, then WhyTF did the parents let them search. If after, then WhatTF were they searching for?

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