David, good suggestion and thanks. I've updated all three parts with links (the "Navigate to Related Information" box is intended to do that, but isn't always complete.
This is a good series and people should read it all!
Rich, I suspect the dynamic you've illuminated here is shared by many other industries. As young adults, a lot of us gravitate toward professions where we can practice our creativity (and youthful idealism), whether that's engineering, the media, architecture, maybe even the law.
You build your career for 20 or 25 years and realize after 10 that it's all about volume, about cranking out the most profitable whatever. There's obviously a value in that, but I suspect a lot of us are conflicted in mid-life as we've often submlinated our creative ideals for something that will sell.
So you see a lot of experienced engineers taking up a lot of creative hobbies to find that outlet. If they involve inspiring kids, so much the better.
One way to get them interested is to open their eyes to real life examples of mathematics and DSP that they use in their daily lives. Start with "raise your hand if you own an iPod or have an HDTV in your home." Then give them the junior high school version of an intro to audio and video compression.
Yo Rich, where have you been living for the past few years, in a monastery? The future of electronics as stated by the author, Rick Lyons, is DSP. You almost now have to have a PhD in mathematics to work in this field. How are you going to get junior high students interested in such topics as complex math or wavelet analysis?
Don't lose too much faith. There's a resurgent hobby community and it's building steam. It's not huge and it focuses on beginners (which is where the focus needs to be, I believe). However, from what I've heard about the HeathKit days, this is hopefully the next version.
Glad to see you're writing too! I've seen some of your comments on here before and now it's OUR turn to leave a few fun snippets for you to read ;-)