Science project prompts San Diego school evacuation

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Agent 204 Agent 204's picture
Science project prompts San Diego school evacuation

And please note that this was not any kind of project that exposed anyone to any actual hazard, just that an ignorant fuck thought it looked hazardous:

Quote:
SAN DIEGO - Students were evacuated from Millennial Tech Magnet Middle School in the Chollas View neighborhood Friday afternoon after an 11-year-old student brought a personal science project that he had been making at home to school, authorities said.

Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said the student had been making the device in his home garage. A vice principal saw the student showing it to other students at school about 11:40 a.m. Friday and was concerned that it might be harmful, and San Diego police were notified.

The school, which has about 440 students in grades 6 to 8 and emphasizes technology skills, was initially put on lockdown while authorities responded.

Luque said the project was made of an empty half-liter Gatorade bottle with some wires and other electrical components attached. There was no substance inside.

From signonsandiego.com (h/t ssdd in this sciencemadness thread); my bold. And what was it really? The fire department determined that the kid was actually trying to make a primitive motion detector. Now I can understand the vice principal having gotten a bit freaked out, but take note of what happened afterwards:

Quote:
The student will not be prosecuted, but authorities were recommending that he and his parents get counseling, the spokesman said. The student violated school policies, but there was no criminal intent, Luque said.

"There will be no (criminal) charges whatsoever," Luque said.

Police and fire officials also will not seek to recover costs associated with responding to the incident, the spokesman said.

Now what in the fuck is this? He needs counselling because he happened to make something which the vice principal didn't recognize, and mistakenly thought it was dangerous? Yeah, I suppose if you're smarter than an authority figure, something has to be done about that. And I'd like to see the "policy" that the kid supposedly violated; I wouldn't be surprise if it's some kind of blanket prohibition of "threats", in which case this is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

And as an aside, the comments made by hissingnoise in the sciencemadness thread are, er, unfortunate.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

The bigger picture: A US school promoting "technology", evacuated and went into lockdown over a technological project, and then recommends counselling for the young fellow who was innovating in his spare time (i.e. learning) at home. Welcome to the new Dark Ages. Embrace your ignorance.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

I guess there won't be no rocket scientists coming from San Diego.

Agent 204 Agent 204's picture

FM: good point about the school being a "tech" school. That occurred to me too, and I meant to include it (honest!) but forgot to in my haste to post.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

You really have to wonder what sort of society we live in when a school VP's first response is to call in a SWAT team rather than approach an 11 year-old. Is there a toll free number? 1-877-RAT-A-KID? Are we officially fucked up yet?

Agent 204 Agent 204's picture

I can almost sympathize with the initial reaction (the vice principal might conceivably have thought there was a possibility that the kid was on a suicide mission). But upon finding out that he/she was dead wrong about this, the only appropriate thing to do would be to drop the issue. And I guess for an authority figure to do this would be unacceptable, as it would require admitting in front of students that s/he was wrong about something (hey, why'd rabble get rid of the eyeroll smiley anyway?)

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Are you serious? An 11 year-old kid on a suicide mission at school? Is this something that happens every day? Was the VP acting because he couldn't live with himself if it happened AGAIN!? We are talking about kids at a school that teaches, allegedly, technology. Where else would one expect to see a kid with a project that involves wire? Are US science fairs now limited to the many, many Mr. Potato Head possibilities (and/or dioramas featuring Jebus and dinosaurs)?

 

Agent 204 Agent 204's picture

Please note that I did say "almost". The thing is, ever since Columbine school officials, especially in the US, have been freaking out about that very thing happening. There's an atmosphere of moral panic around the whole thing, so it's understandable (though not good) that an official got carried away.

Note too that this project was not for a school-sponsored event; it's described as a "personal" project that the kid built at home and brought to school to show his friends. There's nothing wrong with that, but it does explain why the vice principal wasn't expecting to see something like that.

G. Muffin

Agent 204 wrote:
I can almost sympathize with the initial reaction (the vice principal might conceivably have thought there was a possibility that the kid was on a suicide mission).

I absolutely sympathize with the initial knee-jerk reaction.

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But upon finding out that he/she was dead wrong about this, the only appropriate thing to do would be to drop the issue.

I agree completely.