Today In Childrearing: Workshop Teaches Kids In L.A. How To Hotwire Cars

January 20, 2011
Machine Project's 'Good People Doing Bad Things' workshop for kids

Machine Project's 'Good People Doing Bad Things' workshop for kids

When we were kids, there were lots of things we weren't allowed to do: ride our bikes on the highway, play with guns, eat dessert before dinner. And, of course, steal cars. For today's rugrats, though, it's a whole new world.

A couple of weeks ago, the esteemed Tom Jennings and Jason Torchinsky taught a workshop for kids on the fine art of breaking into and hotwiring a car. The class was held at Machine Project, a Los Angeles teaching and gallery space that uses "hands-on engagement to make rarefied knowledge accessible". Translation: they show people how things work.

The class was called "How to Steal Cars", and it was part of a series of workshops called ""Good People Doing Bad Things". Here's the description:

For most kids (and adults), modern cars are simply these gleaming, aggressive-faced jellybeans that house air-conditioning units and MP3 players while they idle in traffic. But underneath their shiny surface lurks all manner of exciting machinery that needs some demystification. That’s where we come in. In this class, we just focus on a few key aspects of cars, and our interactions with them, while learning a bit about the physics and mechanics behind how it all works.

Over the course of an afternoon, Jennings and Torchinsky showed kids and their parents how to break into cars using putty knives and coat hangers; how to break out of a locked trunk; and the fine art of hotwiring (though the kids didn't get hands-on experience doing that, due to the risk of, you know, electrocution). The instructors used an older-model Honda sedan for demonstration purposes, which was smart, since more recently made rides are configured to make hotwiring nearly impossible.

In our opinion, this looks like the best workshop ever -- the kind of thing Steve McQueen would've taught if he'd been an elementary school teacher instead of an actor. There don't appear to be any plans to offer this class again in the immediate future, but the folks at Machine Project are open to repeats or new workshops, given input from the public. If they do, we'll be there in a heartbeat.


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