I was talking to a contemporary who is a physics professor the other day and those words came from him ... Many of them know how to program (although he and others point out many of those have learned some really bad habits), but few know how to play with the physical work.
It dates me, but when I was a kid making things was common. The schools were even involved - probably as training for presumed vocations. The classes were sexually segregated with the boys taking wood and metal shop as well as mechanical drawing and the girls took cooking and sewing. Everyone should have had a taste of all of those. The problem of discrimination combined with budget issues and a focus on only teaching the "relevant" basics and these programs have mostly disappeared.
a huge loss ...
There is no reason someone has to be isolated from all of the fun. Cooking is the low hanging fruit as we need food to live so most of us get beyond the microwave oven and pre-packed or store prepared food - at least a bit. The others can be addressed by adult education or just going out and trying getting inspiration and instruction online.
Make is an excellent source for projects that combine disciplines like mechanical and electrical engineering and a bit of computer science ... as well as art. The combinations vary and it is all community based. Make whatever you want and teach others or learn at someone else's feet. The quality of the projects is all over the place and some criticism has been made about this. I think the criticism is unfounded - this is just people having fun - tasting and learning at their own pace.
Recently a series of podcast interviews of prominent makers went online. I started listening the other day with #8 - a rather clever fellow who reverse engineers manufactured objects at a fairly sophisticated level, publishing his results.
really excellent and recommended! It might inspire you or your kid to just go out and try something. I've done a few things but several friends are having a lot of fun: Sukie has taught herself how to design and make jewelry that many consider professional, Steve does serious woodworking, Howard is working with his son on some fun stuff as a father-son team, Alan designs and builds cameras and photographic lighting, Jheri is learning dress and pattern making looking at the use of computerized cutting tools, and Dave is building a micro-satellite for orbit. Gabe made his own sous-vide cooker and is working on a vacuum packing machine and has repaired a centrifuge for culinary purposes. Greg has probably been doing this for most of his life and is seriously competent. He combines his physics and engineering skills with a great sense of design and creativity for some wonderful projects that have generated patents. And then there is Jan - anyone who joins the Polish Army because he was interested in diesels and he knew they had some is interesting. And I'm probably missing the makerness of several others ....
If you don't have a workshop there are probably projects that don't require much and some areas have clubs or even business that give access to tools.
A really nice way to grow and do interesting stuff as well as meet interesting people! My guess is the average group of people who build things is probably going to be more interesting than people who use their time to watch TV.