Parenting Gifted Children: No, you cannot build a bomb in the backyard

2010 will go down as the best summer of geek camp ever. Now, these often pricey science, chess, math and arts camps don't always provide their value in content, or even in instructors, but they do typically provide a positive social setting for the child who is, say, more mathlete than athlete or who cares more about Bach than baseball.

In recent weeks my older boy completed courses in roller coaster physics, robotics, and pyrotechnics AKA combustion AKA blowing things ups.

One of these (literally) mind-blowing experiments involved hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil. Yes, did you know you had the makings of a bomb in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets? Suffice to say we all learned a little something new this summer.

Well, this little experiment caused a small explosion in our house when said child came home eager to replicate the activities of his class. Foolish me had told the excited child that he could show us what he did in camp that day. However, when he mentioned the HCl, a dangerous, toxic material I hadn't handled since I cleaned dolphin tanks in Hawaii (and that was wearing work gloves and a gas mask) I got a little suspicious.

DH and I were both concerned that the teacher would send kids home to try out such a dangerous "experiment" without written instructions and a long list of safety precautions, so I had a heated discussion with one of the camp administrators the next day that started out something like, "What the hell is going on in these classes?!" at least in my mind that's how it began.

It turns our my eager child with serious selective hearing issues missed the multiple Do Not Try This At Home warnings. Oops.

One of the ways I rationalized loving my small house, especially after the Columbine tragedy, was that my kids would never be building bombs without my knowledge in such a cozy space. Now, I'm not so sure.

Stay tuned for Part II of our pyrotechnic adventures, the one where my younger child nearly goes up in flames. Don't worry folks, it's all in the name of summer fun. And science!
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