I've previously groused about how little sense it makes for me to involve high-school students in research, here and here. They never want to do research: they want a line item on their resume that says they have "research experience," so they can get into a university more selective than mine. Worse, it's rarely the students who make the inquiries: for 10+ years now, it's almost always been their parents.
Kids, this has finally come to its logical conclusion. A parent e-mailed to ask whether their spawn might be able to benefit in my lab, from what is essentially free tutoring from me. I gave my now-usual reply: "I'm sorry, but there's not much in my lab that a high-school student can do," after which I give a list of research programs that are actually funded to take high-school students, as well as a list of readings. (Hope springs eternal, but as John Cleese noted, "It was an act of purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place.")
The parent responded that this was OK. Might I be able just to add their spawn's name on a paper, as a co-author?
The next time I am asked this, I am going to reply, "Sure, if you make a $3M donation to our Foundation, to endow a chair for me to sit in, together with a separate $500k donation to set up an endowment to pay the rent for our observatory in perpetuity. We'll name the chair and the observatory after you, of course." Sadly, I missed my opportunity the first time: I was expecting to ask the university administrator who'd referred their old pal to me for some release time, which of course they never give me.
P.S. SHUT THAT BLOODY BOUZOUKI OFF!
Froderick Frankenstien from Fresno