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Fed up with the safety nazis ….

… who are denaturing science as they’re trying to denature everything else … a Microsoft nerd put a nuclear reactor in his garage and invited smart kids to come play with it.


The project aims to reimagine what science class might look like, and nudge dozens of kids into careers in science and technology.

It started with a guy named Carl Greninger, and his realization that tight budgets and fear of lawsuits have pushed out much of the fun, dangerous stuff from high school science labs, leaving “nothing sharper than silly putty.

“I walked into a classroom and I saw a science teacher. And he had a string and a paper cup. And he says, well, we’re studying physics, and I looked back at the kids and I saw the word ‘lame’ tattooed across their foreheads. And I said, I can do better than this in my garage” ….

Great story. Great everyday — or maybe not quite everyday — act of helpful subversion. 🙂


  1. Bear
    Bear February 12, 2013 4:47 pm

    …freaking moderation…

    …two URLs isn’t moderate?

  2. Tommy Sewall
    Tommy Sewall February 12, 2013 7:33 pm

    I resemble that! for those old enough to remember the three stooges.

    Students constantly ask why we make science so boring and I have to agree with them. A lot has to do with regulations but a lot also has to do with cost. Science classes with labs cost a lot more than other classes. We are asked to spend 40 to 50% of our time engaged in hands-on, inquiry based activities. Of course the goal is to pass a state test that has nothing to do with inquiry or research skills. There is a tendency to hire science teachers with minimal lab training and, in some cases, minimal science training. Textbook companies and science supply companies are more than happy to help us out by suggesting experiments using household items (not that that’s bad) or prepared kits (costly). To me, its difficult to explain expectations to students if I have no idea whether or not an experiment will work.

    I’ve also been put in the position of opposing the requirement that honors students compete in science fair. The rules have become stifling. This really hurts since I have had many students compete successfully at regional, state and even international science fair. For example, composting projects are not allowed to be done outside of a biohazard level 1 laboratory under “expert” supervision. If a student measures other student’s heights and weights, each parent has to sign a release and a doctor has to evaluate the possibility of physical or emotional harm to the participants.

    By the way, the string and cup experiment work a lot better if you use monofilament fishing line tied to two good supports and mic on a laptop with a good sound analysis program (usually free). You could follow up with open and closed metal tubes of various lengths as well as fishing line, music wire, or bottles with various amounts of water to demonstrate the principle of standing waves. Finish off by allowing students to analyze their voices or musical instruments they play.

  3. Jim B.
    Jim B. February 12, 2013 7:49 pm

    Pretty cool stuff.

    But speaking of careers, take a gander at this:

    And best of all the price is right. Free. : )

  4. Pat
    Pat February 12, 2013 10:15 pm

    It depends on what’s important, and if you want to teach it. And keep politics out of it.

    When I was in 8th grade (WAY back in the day), my science teacher took apart a TV set and put it together again in class, explaining how each part made the picture and sound work to give us – ta da! – Milton Berle and Hallmark Theater. Then had us over to his house one evening to watch those programs.

    At that time, that was new, and fascinating, and creative, and modern. Technology today is no different. But it does take an effort on the teacher’s part to 1) know what he’s teaching, and 2) care enough about his students to teach it.

    And it doesn’t matter what the string and cup are made of, but what the purpose is, and how it’s presented.

  5. Matt, another
    Matt, another February 13, 2013 4:30 am

    Might be fun to build a chemistry lab in your garage, teach how to make various compounds and chemicals and see how long before you get raided by DHS and/or the local teachers union.

  6. Pre-press veteran
    Pre-press veteran February 13, 2013 5:26 am

    “If a student measures other student’s heights and weights, each parent has to sign a release and a doctor has to evaluate the possibility of physical or emotional harm to the participants.”

    THIS is why education has gone straight down the toilet. IMO.

    Right now, it’s got a good chance of being my “outrage of the day”… but then, I haven’t checked to see what the fearless leader said last night yet.

  7. Pre-press veteran
    Pre-press veteran February 13, 2013 11:51 am

    Nope; that wasn’t it, today. Today, it was the news that students in Texas… chanting USA – USA at a basketball game… were accused of being racists; reprimanded and forced to apologize.

    Time perhaps for me to spend a lot of time in the woods. Alone. Playing with rocks.

  8. LarryA
    LarryA February 14, 2013 1:51 am

    [Technology today is no different.]

    Tried to take anything apart lately? Everything’s gone electric and black box.

    Well, except guns.

    Speaking of which: “Texas State Representative James White hopes a new bill he’s proposed will help more high school students across the state handle guns properly. It would give schools the choice to offer a class, taught by a certified concealed handgun license instructor or peace officer, on how safely to use guns like pistols, revolvers and shotguns.”

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