Last weekend I took my daughter Jane and her friend Anna to a workshop in Los Angeles to teach them how to break into cars, get out of a lock car trunk, and hotwire a car.
The workshop was part of Machine Project's "Good People Doing Bad Things" curriculum and was conducted by Tom Jennings (the creator of FidoNet, the founder of one of the first Internet service providers, and the founder and publisher of the fanzine Homocore) and Jason Torchinsky (an artist, author, and Boing Boing guest blogger).
Tom and Jason started out by explaining how the latching mechanism of a car door works.
Tom made a model of a car door latch out of cardboard paperclips and rubber bands.
Then we all went downstairs and outside to where Mark Allen's (Director of Machine Project) locked car was parked.
Tom and Jason showed the kids the tools of the trade for getting into a locked car: a putty knife, a coat hanger, and a pair of pliers.
They let the kids figure out what to do, and with a little guidance the kids were successfully able to unlock the car.
Next, Tom and Jason showed the kids how the trunk of the car could be opened if you happen to get locked inside. Today's cars have a plastic red tag you can pull to open the trunk, but on an older car there is no such tag.
Instead, all you have to do is pull on the cable leading from the latch release in the front of the car to the latch of the trunk. This was the kids' favorite part of the workshop, and they repeated the process several times.
Finally, Tom and Jason demonstrated how to hotwire a car, starting it without a key.
They didn't let the kids do this, because of the low voltage shock they might get. And in fact, Tom gave himself a couple of shocks during the demonstration, much to the delight of the kids.
My daughter Jane has been talking about the workshop for days. She told me she wished that her regular school was more like this. It makes me want to move to the Bay Area and enroll her in Brightworks, a hands-on K-12 school that my friend Gever Tulley is cofounding.
My friend John Park brought along his seven-year-old son Ronan and he wrote about the workshop at Make: Online.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.