Stupidity detector

A San Diego boy’s science project — a motion detector made out of a Gatorade bottle and electrical components — prompted a vice principal to call the bomb squad and evacuate Millennial Tech Middle School, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.

After examination by a robot and X-rays, the device was found to be just what the 11-year-old boy said it was.  Still, with the parents’ cooperation, the boy’s home and garage were inspected. Nothing dangerous was found, said Maurice Luque, a San Diego Fire Rescue spokesman.

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.

What school policy? Union-Tribune story doesn’t say, but I’m guessing this was something the boy did on his own and took to school to show his friends as opposed to a teacher-assigned science project. Of course, that assumes there’s a school rule against displaying an unauthorized project on campus. For what should the boy and parents be counseled? Perhaps excess interest in technology, the alleged focus of the magnet school.

My first husband designed an atomic bomb for his elementary school science fair when he was in fifth grade, but didn’t try to build it. He wasn’t arrested, though I believe he only came in second.

At Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow blames a “candy-ass vice-principal” for panicking the school.

Via Instapundit.

About Joanne


  1. tim-10-ber says:

    The kids goes to a tech magnet school for heaven sakes. One would think if he is at a tech magnet school he has interest in all things technical. This is a clever invention…so…why in the world would anyone in their right mind ever send their child to a government school with administrators this stupid. Geez…we punish the teachers but who is punishing/firing the stupid administrators…countless need to go in my district…

  2. I think the family needs counseling on how to get in to a private school.

  3. Mike Curtis says:

    Why was the boy’s home/garage searched, and why did the parents cooperate with such an absurd request? For what disorder was counseling recommended? Is stupid behavior contagious?

    The chain of events may have been started by the vice-principal, but there are more links to this chain than fear and ignorance can excuse. Stupid people need to be publically identified; perhaps like they do registered sex offenders. Put their photos on a public web site so that interested parties can see who their neighbors and workmates are before it’s too late.

  4. Don Bemont says:

    Hard to say which makes my eyes roll more, the vice principal or the turning of this into a “government school” issue.

    Unless important facts have been left out of the news report, this is, indeed, a stupidity issue, as Mike Curtis says.

  5. When the vice-principal handled the detector, did it go spinning out of his hands?

  6. Its a science and tech school… even if it was a bomb, the boy should have been praised.

  7. Not so stupid. A motion detector can serve as a detonator.

  8. Before we roast this man for what, on the surface, does indeed appear to be a foolish action, take a more careful look at the facts as presented in the article:

    The VP didn’t call the bomb squad, he called the police. They responded with a bomb squad, probably because the VP described the object in question to them – which he would have had to do. The school wasn’t evacuated until after the *police* talked to the boy. All the vice principal did was follow a safety protocol set in place for a situation like this in order to protect all the children in the school. As others on the Boing Boing thread have pointed out, something the boy said in that interview made the *police* decide to continue with investigations and take precautionary steps. And, as someone else pointed out, a student at another school in the city had managed to actually set off some homemade bombs in Gatorade bottles on campus a few months earlier. Given that, I think it perfectly reasonable that the vice principal was concerned and followed procedure.

    If you’re going to blast someone for evacuating the school and the ensuing stupidity, blast the people who actually made that happen – the police – instead of blindly jumping on the “public school officials are all idiots” bandwagon. Some are, some aren’t. The only thing we know for sure about this one is that he did what he was supposed to do in an unsure situation.

  9. Don Bemont says:

    redkudu, you have a point.

    I read “authorities” recommending counseling as referring to school officials, probably the VP and whoever he leaned on to save face. But it is entirely possible it was law enforcement authorities.

    Also, it is still possible that something significant has been left out of this story, some detail which led various people to be on heightened alert.

  10. While I agree this seems like overkill. the Columbine police were roundly castigated for not searching the homes and garages for bomb making supplies.

  11. John Bradley says:

    The bomb bloodhounds searched an American home and garage and didn’t find any bomb making materials? It isn’t just the vice principal who needs to go into another line of work. It is revolting that no one seems to have asked the kid to show them how the copied device worked or have looked it up on the internet. As Ian Anderson might say “Thick As a Brick”.

  12. “Why was the boy’s home/garage searched, and why did the parents cooperate with such an absurd request?”

    Because nearly every school in the nation now has the “officer in the school” program… and the school cop will have explained to the parents that since the school was evacuated … regardless of what the student did or did not actually do… he could and would be charged with the Class 3 Felony Conviction of “Disruption of the School Day” if they did not comply. Of course, compliance does not prevent a student from being charged, convicted and incarcerated. A student wrote the word bom on the girl’s bathroom mirror (wanted a girls to know that he thought she was ‘da bom’ and served 3 months.

    Go talk to any juvenile detention officer and find out for yourself how many students are currently incarcerated in your area on this charge. What began as an over-reaction to Columbine has become a tyrannical weapon in the heavy hand of some administrators. And thousands and thousands of students – many straight A Honor students BTW – have now had their lives ruined. Ineligible for multiple jobs and services … even if they survive the disruption of family life … the costs to the family of legal counsel… etc.

  13. Just wanted to see if these regs are still in place. A quick check of the net found this school policy

    ” Students Shall Not Commit Bomb Hoaxes or Commit Acts of Terror- (G.S. 115C-39(d3)(d4)
    Students shall not make any threat likely to be perceived as a terrorist act or threat, whether or not such act is intended. Prohibited acts include, but are not limited to the following:

    Displaying any device on school property so as to cause any person reasonably to believe the item is capable of causing injury to persons or property, whether with intent to harm or not.”

    And of course, we all know that if a school administrator believes it so … it is therefore “reasonable” thought.

    Might want to check your school policies for what is rights to administrators have actually been put in place.

    I do hope this little inventor manages to avoid criminal charges.
    with an intent to perpetrate a hoax;

  14. andrei radulescu-banu says:

    “…The project was made of an empty half-liter Gatorade bottle with some wires and other electrical components attached. There was no substance inside.”

    Clearly “substance” should be banned from schools. Kudos to the courageous vice principal and to the Police, that were not deterred or otherwise scared and at great risk to their life neutralized the “electrical components”!


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