Reminders from a Victoria Teen

My current life as an independent math and physics tutor had its roots in the toys of my youth. I was reminded of this by a story on CBC Radio One this morning when the host interviewed Ann Makosinski, who is now a Grade 12 student at Saint Michael’s University School (SMUS) here in Victoria.

Ann became well known in science-education circles after she won a top prize in Google’s 2013 science fair for her invention of a flashlight that is powered by the heat of a human hand. Her story has been told by The Huffington Post, BC Business, The Province and other news sources. Several videos, including some TEDx talks, about her and her invention can be found online.

This one

is my favourite because of the electronics workbench scenes.

What I liked best about this morning’s CBC story were the parts where Ann said that her earliest toy had been a box of transistors, that she subsequently built some of her own toys with a hot-glue gun, and that now at 17 she is glad she does not have her own phone because of how distracting it would be.

Since Christmas has just passed, this reminded me of some DIY electronics kits I received as gifts when I was in my early teens.

This is the bottom of one of the first radios I ever built.

Physics Tutor's Early Radio

ABSC Regen Bottom

I used it earlier this month while tutoring one of my online physics students to show her what inductors can look like. Unfortunately, by current standards this would probably be regarded as a death-trap and many people would be horrified to find it in the hands of even an older teen.

This is the first piece of electronic test equipment I ever owned. I built it from a kit that my parents bought from Radio Shack. Back then the instrument was called a Volt-Ohm Meter (VOM) but these days it would be referred to as a multimeter.

Physics Tutor First Instrument


Even though I now own newer and more sophisticated multimeters I still find myself using this one at least once a year.

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