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So many toys vying for affection

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David Ashton
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re: So many toys vying for affection
David Ashton   5/8/2011 12:53:26 AM
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I remember in my high school physics class the teacher got the Van de Graaf generator and picked the girl with the longest blonde hair, got her on a rubber mat next to it and got her to put her hand on the top. Fired it up and eventually all her hair was standing straight out. Can you see them doing that these days? And the time I nicked a thumbnail sized bit of sodium from the chem lab. Had it in my pocket all the way to a friend's house, where we chucked it in the pool and watched it whizz around, and eventually blow up showering us with water. if it had ignited in my pocket I would probably have lost a leg..... That WAS dangerous and if I'd been found out I would (rightly) have had my ass tanned... I have a workmate who is a radio ham. He has a few flash looking transceivers but wouldn't think of building one himself. I have lent him a comms textbook and we are going to build ourselves some GDOs (Grid Dip Oscillators) but I think he finds the theory intimidating. Still, he is better than most of the population, who take all the magical technology we have now as a given, and want it to do even more without even wondering how we got it as good as it is.

zeeglen
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re: So many toys vying for affection
zeeglen   5/7/2011 9:24:47 PM
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This afternoon I took my son to a used-book store for research on his high school project. At the checkout we were told that today's special was a free comic book. I took a quick flip through the box of used comic books. Found a 1986 edition of "Archie's Ham Radio Adventure". That's right, Archie Andrews and Jughead, Big Moose, Betty and Veronica, Reggie, and of course Dilton was the ham operator. Surprisingly, so was the rich Mr. Lodge. The small print indicated the comic was a "joint educational project by members of the amateur radio business community in cooperation with the ARRL" and was distributed free of charge. Front and rear pages have info on ham licensing and Morse code. I have to wonder how many school kids were inspired to get into ham radio and then into electronic engineering as a result. Then I asked my son if there was a radio club at his high school. No. There is a science club, their main activities last year were a T-Shirt contest and a poster contest. He does belong to a small robotics club which actually did put some hardware together that didn't work. The last science fair I visited (years ago) all the displays were poster boards except for another son's Tesla coil which he was not allowed to operate since it was "too dangerous". When I was a school kid the science fairs had real working gadgets, beakers of hydrogen that actually blew up with a nice loud bang, hovercrafts, magnetic levitation, breadboarded electronic circuits, Tesla coils that roared and emitted lovely long arcs of corona and created oodles of ozone to get high on, all hands-on real goodies instead of posterboard displays. So am doing some more wondering. How many readers have kids in a school that still has a radio club? Do today's schools still attempt to foster an interest in the techniques and science behind radio communications? Or has it become "too easy" with the proliferation of over-the-counter cell phones?

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