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Safety Commission To Rule On Safety of Rulers In Science Kits 446

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-someone-please-think-of-the-rulers dept.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been trying decide for weeks if science kits designed to teach children are safe enough for children to use without vigorous testing. It's not just the chemicals or sharp items in the kits that they are troubled with however. They are also concerned about the dangers of paper clips, magnets, and rulers. From the article: "Science kit makers asked for a testing exemption for the paper clips and other materials. The commission declined to grant them a blanket waiver as part of the guidance the agency approved Wednesday on a 3-2 vote." To be fair, paper clips can cause a lot of damage — just look at what Clippy did to Microsoft Office.
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Safety Commission To Rule On Safety of Rulers In Science Kits

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  • It's not like we have better things to do than make sure every child receives a rounded ruler!
    • by eln (21727)

      It's not like we have better things to do than make sure every child receives a rounded ruler!

      Why would anyone want a ruler that was only 10 inches long?

  • by Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:10PM (#33748236)
    why the poor science education [newsfactor.com] in the United States is such a big problem?
    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:17PM (#33748344) Journal

      Not really. We have a nanny state that is hell bent on protecting the idiots and children from all the evils of the world,while neglecting to remember that the nanny state itself is evil.

      When we realize that the nanny state is just as evil as everything it is trying to protect us from, then we'll truly be free ... again.

      People in Ivory Towers always love to treat everyone else like idiots needing their superior guidance. Because we're too stupid to function in a society without their wisdom and knowledge.

      • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmatt e r .org> on Thursday September 30, 2010 @01:29PM (#33749496) Journal

        People in Ivory Towers always love to treat everyone else like idiots needing their superior guidance. Because we're too stupid to function in a society without their wisdom and knowledge.

        My brother relates a similar sentiment, but concerning the regulators themselves . . .

        Suppose that somebody erected a control tower to oversee the car traffic in a busy Wal-Mart parking lot. The controllers in the tower work all day every day to direct the cars to and from their spaces. It is hectic work and they go home every day exhausted.

        Now suppose we ask those controllers about the prospect of converting the parking lot back to uncontrolled. This question would immediately trigger their resistance to change and their desire to hang on to their jobs. But suppose they are honest enough to understand that this is happening to them, and so they ignore it and try to answer objectively.

        The problem is that, in their objective experience, an uncontrolled parking lot is completely infeasible. Their jobs are hectic, even frantic, all day every day. If asked to imagine a parking lot without control, they would visualize a chaotic scene of collisions, arguments, and even gun battles. They HAVE to visualize that, in order to see themselves as useful and virtuous.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pnuema (523776)
          Um, have you been to a Wal-Mart parking lot? That description doesn't seem too far off the mark to me. I avoid my local one like the plague.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's only a matter of time before the commission realizes that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, bans science kits outright, and starts going after books.

  • by ncttrnl (773936) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:10PM (#33748248)
    If our kids aren't smart enough to use a ruler without injury, what can we really expect them to learn?
    • by Ltap (1572175) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:14PM (#33748302) Homepage
      A better question might be: "Is our children learning?"
    • If our kids aren't smart enough to use a ruler without injury, what can we really expect them to learn?

      Quick and easy nitroglycerin production?

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Actually stuff like that... Yes I made nitroglycerin in my dad's garage... is what drove my interest in chemistry and what made me get a degree in chemistry.

        Problem is they dont tell you that a chemist's job is boring as hell. 90% of all chemistry degrees at the BS level = glorified gopher. I gave up and went for EE and CS after 5 years of wasting time in a lab.

    • by mysidia (191772) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:41PM (#33748712)

      Our product safety commission apparently can't understand the difference between learning tools for children and toys for physical play.

      A toy for physical play is something designed for a young child to throw around or manipulate mechanically.

      Tools for learning are things like books, pens, paper, pencils, paperclips, markers, scissors, knives, protracters, compasses, hole punches, staplers, paper cutters, syringes, beakers, test tubes, etc.

      Tools for learning are not for physical play. Children need to learn and be able to use them, even though they would be dangerous if misused.

    • Three choices (Score:4, Informative)

      by wsanders (114993) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:55PM (#33748946) Homepage

      I have a wonderful book from the 60s, "700 Science Experiments for Everyone", originally published as "UNESCO Source Book for Science Teaching." It was wonderful gems like "How to Make an Electric Toaster" ("Your problem is to find a convenient was to mount 5 metres (no less!) of nichrome wire in a space no larger than a slide of bread."), and cutting apart old torch batteries to get the carbon rods to make an arc light, connected directly to the mains via a rheostat made from wire-wound rocks immersed in salt water. Not to mention DIY test tubes, alcohol lamps, etc.

      Or, you can grow up to be a lawyer, or someone who scrubs toilets for lawyers.

    • Thought experiment (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @01:27PM (#33749466) Homepage Journal

      Just to play devil's advocate here: what amounts to reasonable precautions is a function of scale, because you can amortize the cost of each expected injury over a larger number of units shipped.

      As a thought experiment, suppose Miss Jones the science teacher puts together a science experiment kit for each of her 30 students. A representative kit is then sent to a safety engineering firm, which charges $10K to conclude there is a 0.2% chance of injury from the ruler, and that this could be reduced to 0.1% by using a slightly different ruler.

      Now it almost certain that nobody is gong to be hurt by the offending ruler, and the engineering investment of $10K prevents an expected 0.03 injuries. That's over $300,000 per injury averted. That makes no economic sense unless the injury is horrific (e.g. requires lifetime institutionalization).

      Now suppose JonesCo puts together a similar kit, and expects to ship 30 thousand units. In that case, it is almost *certain* that somebody is going to get hurt, although any *individual's* chance is quite small. The expected number of injuries saved by the engineering study is now 30. Amortizing the $10K study costs over 30 injuries means that you've spent just over 300 per injury saved. This is not quite justifiable for things like paper cuts of course, but an emergency room visit probably costs more than that.

      So: the costs involved with a safety review may or may not be justifiable depending on the number of units that will be shipped.

      In either case, the safety of the pre-study and post-study kits are practically indistinguishable. As a parent, I wouldn't freak out if the Miss Jones kit was used in place of the JonesCo kit, because we are talking about very, very rare accidents. But those freak accidents *do* happen and are worth considering *collectively*. I say this as a parent who has taken a toddler to the emergency room for an injury at preschool who sent that child right back to the same school the next day with the heart shaped bead he'd shoved up into his sinuses in his pocket.

  • Now comes with Science Rock !

  • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:11PM (#33748280)

    ....that the "My First Meth Lab" is probably never going to reach store shelves?

  • by Storebj0rn (692884) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:15PM (#33748314)
    It's clearly irresponsible to expose kids to some rulers; Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin and under certain conditions George W Bush
  • Sloppy (Score:4, Funny)

    by symes (835608) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:18PM (#33748350) Journal
    I must say that I find the concerns raised by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to be lacking. They haven't, for example, considered the considerable harms posed by the science kits manual itself. The risk of a paper cut is considerable.
  • by bobdotorg (598873) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:18PM (#33748358)

    The only reason we have safe laboratories today is because in the 1970's, science kits killed the careless ones.

    Hell, even our playgrounds weeded out the stupid. [reoiv.com]

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      The only reason we have safe laboratories today is because in the 1970's, science kits killed the careless ones.

      you sir are my hero.

      I also am sick of the coddling of the population to eliminate natural selection.

  • Viva los trombones! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oldmac31310 (1845668)
    Paper clips are great toys/tools. Stop protecting the children from themselves and their inate curiosity and creativity.
  • Television, fast food, sugary drinks, drivers with cellphones, schools and parents.

    Also, magnets are pretty safe as long as you don't eat more than one at a time. Although a science kit really needs at least two magnets to be interesting, so I guess it is impossible to make a safe science kit if your kid has pica.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:22PM (#33748402) Homepage Journal

    The federal commission of me agrees: science should be banned in the USA, so should be the last remnants of common sense; any display of individuality and unhealthy interest in any particular subject need to be investigated to establish the safety of such behavior as it relates to the society in total.

    Everything must be made not just safe enough, but safe with a huge margin of error so that there is no chance of any accident happening ever at all. Of-course accidents are mostly responsible for a large number of scientific discoveries, so any evidence of scientific discovery must be investigated to isolate the main reason and find out where the safety procedures have failed to prevent such an occurrence to make sure it never happens again.

    Have a safe day.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      More insightful than funny, and unfortunately we are fast becoming exactly that parody of ourselves. :(

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:22PM (#33748406)
    I have seen Xrays of children that have swallowed magnets - it aint good, and probably could have been prevented yet still allowed children to explore magnetism. magnets are also much stronger and more brittle than they were when I was a kid, the risks have changed and it is responsible to review policy. I don't think anyone wants to stop children learning here and I don't want to buy a science kit for my kid that's full of things that are more dangerous than they need to be.
    By all means balance risk against learning benefit, but let there be some balance, not just recklessness to save a penny by not removing the sharp edges on a ruler.
    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:29PM (#33748508)
      Here's a thought: teach your kids not to swallow magnets.

      If your kid is too stupid not to eat two magnets, they shouldn't be given a science kit. Heck, you should probably just lock them in a padded room so they can't hurt themselves. Science kits aren't given to two year olds, if your kid who is 7 or 8 swallows magnets, either you've failed as a parent or your kid is pretty damn stupid.

      If you don't like what is in science kits, don't buy them for your kid, and your kid will end up in a low paying job eating away at society's wealth by using welfare and the like.

      But let us who can actually raise kids and don't want our kids to end up with dreams and aspirations beyond the local Burger King buy the kits for our kids.
      • by Abcd1234 (188840)

        Here's a thought: teach your kids not to swallow magnets.

        Exactly! It's like all these packages with "choking hazard" warnings or, like, "danger, this is poison" warnings. Just teach your kids not to swallow these things, and they'll just totally not do it, 'cuz kids are like that! Right?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Darkness404 (1287218)
          Um, yeah. Past the age of like two your kid shouldn't be swallowing random stuff. You don't give science kits to two year olds, you give them to 7 or 8 year olds or perhaps 5 and 6 year olds with a lot of parental supervision.

          If your kid won't listen to you about eating random crap and is about 4 or older, you've screwed up as a parent or there is something wrong with your kid.
      • An anecdote my father tells...

        Where he worked, there was a safety awareness/training program. As an award, for finishing the program, or for having a good safety record, was a pocket knife. Nearly every person who got one of these knives cut himself with it soon afterward. ...Except my father, who had been shown how (and why) to handle knives safely when he was very young.

        One of my lasting memories is of my father showing me why "sticking your fingers in a fan is a bad idea" by using a small metal fan to

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Everyone, even the most brilliant, cautious, and wise of us, will do something stupid every once in a while. I do not think it's a bad thing to make sure that parts from a kit designed to be used by children, who by nature, do stupid things more often, are designed to make injury difficult.
  • recommendations? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by magarity (164372) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:23PM (#33748428)

    Can anyone recommend a good science kit with all kinds of things about to be banned? I have a 5 1/2 year old who and we could have a good time with a decent kit. Preferably one with plenty of toxic and/or explosive chemicals and of course some sharp objects, etc.

  • If you die choking on a standard plastic ruler, you were too weak to survive in this world. Better you improve the species by not perpetuating your substandard genes.
  • The CPSC could stick to something useful, like banning products with hidden and unexpected dangers, but no. As a government agency they must expand to get more power. They are self-interested. They attract power-hungry people who desire to control what we can buy. They attract people who like to show off a list of accomplishments that allegedly protect the children.

    I still miss the lawn darts. (jarts) Lawn darts could kill you, but they were fun (unlike anything that meets approval) and they helped to remov

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:32PM (#33748566)

    You know all of those guys who worked for NASA in the 60s, designing and building the rockets that took us to the moon? Well, they had radioactive sources and Geiger counters in their science kits.

    And kids today are going to have to fight to get paper clips and magnets. Sigh.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:37PM (#33748644) Journal
    Ask a Navy SEAL or your friendly neighborhood secret agent, or Vin "I'm going to kill you with my teacup" Diesel, or even your local role playing gamer: almost anything can be used as a weapon to inflict harm on someone. It follows that almost any object, used improperly, can unintentionally inflict harm. Of course a kid can hurt themselves or others with a paperclip or a ruler; it doesn't take a genius to figure that out! It also shouldn't take a genius to figure out that life, and growing up in particular, is full of risks, and that avoiding those risks is neither realistic, nor is it practical or, in my opinion, particularly desirable! I am saddened and angered by the "pussification of America" by removing all sources of everyday harm and risk, the obsessive "childproofing" of everything around us (often without regard for whether it affects adults or not!), and especially the "helicopter parent" mentality: you're raising your kids to be huge pussies! I also suspect that much of this over-sheltering of children is contributing in a big way to the "quarter-life crisis" phenomenon. Instead of "protecting" children to the point of encasing them in bubblewrap and feeding them intravenously (because they might choke on their pablum), how about we teach them the proper use, and more importantly an appropriate level of respect for potentially dangerous objects and situations, so they'll grow up to be responsible, capable adults? Or is that too radical and "dangerous" a concept anymore?
  • Rulers?! Unless they are being used by a nun they are not lethal. Paper clips? Heaven forbid we give these kids staplers. Rubber bands? Tie enough around the neck and you can strangle someone. Erasers? Stuff a hundred or so in your nose and mouth and you could suffocate. Paper? What better to write bomb threats on? Shoes? We could kill someone with those, eventually. Magnifying glass? EVIL EVIL. A pencil? The horrors of millions of children going around without eyes. A desk? Well you could push one

  • Weird thing is I've just come back from the supermarket and I noticed on the side of some kids party novelties that the box advertising had the slogan "Hours of fun and safety!". How depressing. The last thing I wanted as a kid was *safety*. Whatever happened to "Hours of fun and excitement"?

    UK just as bad as the USA sometimes....

  • Bad summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:43PM (#33748752)

    This isn't about banning. This is about testing.

    When I was a kid, someone had a cheap plastic ruler. He slapped it on my desk to wake me up one day and the damn thing shattered.

    What the hell are paper clips doing in a science kit anyway? Is it part of the module on the boring bureaucracy of science?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zero_out (1705074)
      I wish everyone would RTFA. Or even read the entire summary, instead of skimming the first half. >95% of the comments thus far have completely missed what you pointed out, Ryuuzaki. The issue is what to test, not what is considered a passing result. Do they give a bye to the paper clips and rulers, or do they test all the contents to ensure that everything is safe? Sure, rulers are generally considered safe, but if some hysterical parent of an injured child asks "did you test everything in this kit?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by archmcd (1789532)
      Paper clips happen to be magnetic, and are a great tool for illustrating magnetism not only between a steel object and a magnet, but between a magnetized piece of steel and another piece of steel (two paper clips). I am at a loss as my science kit when I was little came with sharp nails instead of paper clips. I thought paper clips were a progression in safety.
  • I hear those rulers are graded using "feet" and "inches", that's pretty dangerous.

  • TO BE FAIR... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AxemRed (755470) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:48PM (#33748816)
    I have to be the devil's advocate in this case. I don't know the degree of testing that they are recommending be done, but I don't think this is as simple as "OMG someone might poke their eye with a paperclip."

    For example...
    A cheaply made wooden ruler that, after a small amount of bending, starts splintering in a way that will cause it to easily give people splinters may not be good for children under 12.
    Or a plastic ruler that is made out of a material that, instead of simply breaking when bent, shatters and causes sharp shards to fly in all directions (think of bending a CD until it breaks) may not be good for children under 12.
    Or even a paperclip that breaks easily leaving sharp edges or contains unsafe amounts of toxic metals may not be good for children under 12.

    My guess is that reasons like these are why they don't relax the guidelines.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by julesh (229690)

      Dunno about the rulers and paperclips, but I think some standards are clearly required for magnets. You can now cheaply (i.e. for much less money than the average kid gets given in a week) acquire magnets that are strong enough to do serious damage if handled incorrectly. Crush injuries, or splinters of magnetic material if you let one slam into a solid metal surface, or (far worse) another, aren't exactly fun. You don't want a magnet that's too strong in a kids science kit; nor do you want one that does

  • Comparison... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:55PM (#33748950) Journal
    Hmm. Thinking about banning *rulers* ... In science-class:
    • When I was 9, we did a survey of the people walking past the school. We stopped people and asked them questions. No teachers were present.
    • When I was 10, we all melted glass test-tubes in bunsen-burner flames, did some elementary glass-blowing.
    • When I was 11, we used the lathe in woodwork, the drills and saws in metalwork, the wheel in pottery etc. I recall making a mangonel that could throw a ball-bearing about 50' in metalwork. That was an end-of-year project though, you had to do all the other stuff first.
    • When I was 12, we were all using mercury-based manometers in physics class. Performed our own blood-type identification in Biology (stabbing your finger with a lancet wasn't fun though)
    • When I was 13, we dissected a bull's eye, everyone had their own bull's eye, scalpel, etc.
    • When I was 14, we took turns getting zapped and zapping others with Van de Graaff generators in Physics.More dissection (frogs) in biology.
    • When I was 15, we detonated a thermite bomb in chemistry class, played with Lithium/Sodium and water
    • When I was 16, life became boring because it was all about exams
    • When I was 17, I took the explosives Chemistry specialisation (nothing too extreme, nitrocellulose and the like, but still)
    • When I was 18, exams took priority again...

    They didn't treat us with kid gloves, we were supposed to be midget scientists, not young hooligans. They kept us in order by making anyone who screwed up too much sit out the year (no more practicals, they could just observe). We took liberties, but not *too* many[*].

    Of course, this was in the UK, not the USA. I can't vouch for how they treated kids over here - there's probably a whole bunch of stuff we did that's more dangerous than *rulers* too, but that was just off-the-top-of-my-head...

    [*] Gun-cotton (basically cotton soaked in Nitric acid to form nitrocellulose) is pretty stable when it's wet, but when it dries out, small amounts of friction can set it off. We took a whole load of it to the pavilion on the yearly school sports-day, and forgot about it (we were playing Runequest in-between competing, I had shot-putt that day :). Eventually it dries, falls off the table, goes 'BANG!' and throws fragments of itself all over the place. Of course, those bits dried faster, and they were all over the floor. Pretty soon, walking anywhere in the pavilion would set off more bangs as the stuff exploded underfoot. Then the headmaster walked in. We made ourselves scarce just in time. He wasn't amused :)

    Simon

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Inda (580031)
      They still do all that in the UK.

      I visited a school last week as part of their open day. There was a bowl of soapy water that the kids were bubbling methane through. They let me grab a handful and set fire to it. Big fun.

      Pigs hearts, lungs, eyes, parabolic mirrors heating water,... Best days of your lives kids. :-)
  • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @12:59PM (#33749014)
    A culture of fanatic overprotection from the wrong things, yeah, that's going to end well in history. Don't run with rulers, round off the scissor ends, no paper clips because we must not have anything with pointy ends, reduce chemistry set functionality because of litigation potential. Dumb down the schools because with jobs going offshore, who needs smart workers here? And dumb kids grow up to be dumb manipulatible voters, just what is desired. Helicopter parents resulting in middle-class kids not growing up until they're in their 20s. Pretty soon apple trees will be required to have protective safety nets so that kids can't fall out of them, the old swimming holes will require lifeguard towers, and all bicycles must have airbags. By the way, now in Australia, knives must be registered. Sorry, Crocodile Dundee. You have to give up that pigsticker.

    We are over-regulated on the wrong things and under-regulated on the vital things. The nanny state fosters dependency on others to make critical judgments for us so that all th consumer need worry about is buying, buying, buying instead of thinking for themselves about a product. Meanwhile, banks destroy the economy and BP destroys the Gulf region because of lack of preventive oversight.

    I say we're so out of balance we're headed to be a footnote in the history books. "The US, an experiment in democracy that failed due to growing beyond the scale where it could be managed properly."

  • by hoggoth (414195) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @01:21PM (#33749362) Journal

    F*cking Rulers, How Do They Work?

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @01:23PM (#33749402)

    The Safety Commission should be more concerned about what the junk on Disney Channel, MTV and others is teaching out kids than whether or not a freaking ruler might be dangerous.

  • by dbc (135354) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @01:31PM (#33749518)

    The law about testing everything for sale to a children under 13 is totally inflexible. Much of the testing is pointless. It is horrendously expensive, and the testing labs are hugely backed up. I've seen this from the viewpoint of an embedded developer -- one of the products I worked on never made it to market because the client had to divert the tooling budget to pay for lab testing of old products. Then they chopped bunches of sku's out of their product line because the cost of testing didn't pencil out. Later, they had to sell the company.

    Look, 10 year old kids don't eat the motors from their slot cars. 4 year old kids don't gnaw on their night lights. Does it matter if the streamers on a kids bicycle contain phthalates? This madness has to stop. The law is inflexible and idiotic and is doing many millions of dollars of economic harm, killing excellent products like the science kits mentioned in the article, and has very little benefit.

    There need to be safety standards, sure. But the law as currently formulated is the most insane piece of work to come from our government bureaucracy in decades.

  • by cvtan (752695) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @02:00PM (#33750064)
    When I was a kid: Erector Sets had many choking hazard screws and metal pieces with unfinished razor sharp edges. Chemistry sets had actual chemicals in them. And I mixed them ALL together. And put electrodes in the goop and plugged it in the wall. A microscope kit came with xylene and actual glass slides etc. I set off rockets in the basement. I hooked all the transformers my dad had end to end to try to make a million volts. I took my prescription for potassium iodide to school and was called to the principal's office because some kid said I threw "acid" at him. I threw nothing at anyone. I made free iodine from my medicine by mixing it with acetic acid. Cool purple clouds!!! I made balsa airplanes using sharp razor blades and toxic glue. The rubber powered ones flew so high they looked like tiny dots in the sky. I made model cars with working suspension and purple metalflake paint jobs. I made a Battling Betsy tank with TWO electric motors that was nosebleed fast. Count me in for the Visible V8 and the Visible Radial Airplane Engine. AND IT WAS ALL GREAT!!!!! I am alive and well and have all my fingers and toes. Today I hear people are worried about paperclips and rulers being dangerous and chemistry is reduced to baking soda and vinegar. This is pitiful and sad.
  • Eventually... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cjcela (1539859) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @02:43PM (#33750718)
    Our relentless pursuit of 'safety' will result in an entire generation of morons.

    If one wants to learn, what is needed is proper instruction and access to materials, not new legislation.

    I grew up outside the US. When I was little it was not uncommon to hear people making fun of safety label of products coming from the US. I used to wonder what kind of people need a warning saying 'do not chew the electric cord' on an electric heater, or a label saying 'do not place your hand inside while operating' on a food processor. By limiting access to learning kits and putting more responsibility on the government than on the parents and teachers, we are shooting ourselves in the foot, and the upcoming generations in the head. You cannot educate using fear. Let the little kids alone. Chances are they will not kill themselves using a ruler.
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @02:54PM (#33750892) Homepage

    When I was a kid, I made gunpowder by:

      - grinding up sulfur candles purchased from the local store
      - making charcoal by charring wood on a small fire outside
      - making saltpeter from cow manure from local fields

    So get your kid a book like:

    http://www.amazon.com/Do---Yourself-Gunpowder-Cookbook/dp/0873646754/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285872731&sr=1-1 [amazon.com]

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