What’s The Big Idea? Pentagon Agency Backs Student Tinkerers To Find Out

by Jon Kalish, National Public Radio

At Analy High School in Sebastopol, Calif., three students are taking apart a bicycle that generates electricity. Another student is calibrating a laser cutter. They’re all working in a cavernous building that once held the school’s metal and electronics shop. Let’s just say it has been updated.

“I’m thinking that I might make a quadrocopter and a tremolo. It’s a type of guitar thing that uses light to change the volume. And a few other things; we’ll see,” says Gabe Cook-Spillane, a senior at Analy High.

A quadrocopter is a small, battery-powered drone that is hugely popular at hackerspaces. These are democratically run work spaces, usually supported by dues, where crafters, builders and computer geeks share tools. They can make robots, modify bicycles, or even knit.

The military has started putting millions of dollars into hackerspaces. The money comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/npr.php?id=165033117