NEW JERSEY: Experiment

George Scherman got along well enough in the freshman class at high school, but he was big (6 ft., 160 lbs.) for his 14 years, and he didn't have many playmates. After school in Neptune, N.J. (pop. 3,068), he was apt to be found alone down in the basement of his home, fixing electrical appliances for the neighbors or making gadgets for himself.

One day last week, while his father and mother were away visiting a sick relative, George went down to the basement to work on a Rube Goldberg experiment he had thought up. His mother had arranged for...