Teacher suspended for kids’ science projects

A Los Angeles teacher was suspended because two students’ science fair projects shot dealt with shooting projectiles, reports the LA Times.

Students and parents have rallied around Greg Schiller after his suspension, with pay, from the Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts, a very expensive new high school in downtown LA.

One project used compressed air to propel a small object but it was not connected to a source of air pressure, so it could not have been fired. (In 2012, President Obama tried out a more powerful air-pressure device at a White House Science Fair that could launch a marshmallow 175 feet.)

Another project used the power from an AA battery to charge a tube surrounded by a coil. When the ninth-grader proposed it, Schiller told him to be more scientific, to construct and test different coils and to draw graphs and conduct additional analysis, said his parents, who also are Los Angeles teachers.

Administrators told Schiller that he was removed from his classroom for “supervising the building, research and development of imitation weapons,” according to teachers union representative Roger Scott.

“As far as we can tell, he’s being punished for teaching science,” said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

This may not have been zero tolerance gone wild, the Times suggests. As the union rep on campus, Schiller had been negotiating with administrators over updating the employment agreement. 

My first husband submitted a design for an atomic bomb for his fifth-grade science fair and nobody said boo.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Took Latin in 1960. Particularly sharp kid did some work on things like ballistas and catapults. If you have to, you can use twisted nylon stockings for the ballista.
    The rocket club was kind of fun,, too.
    But that was before a bunch of busybodies figured they’d get ed cred and lib cred by pretending to find weapons in poptarts and whatnot.
    It’s sort of like dog whistle. If you can hear the (racist) dog whistle, you’re the dog.
    Can we please fire these people?

  2. Charles R. Williams says:

    They should do distillation instead.

  3. Peter Mills says:

    Good thing my nephew lives in MI because he was part of his middle school’s Trebuchet Club. Here is a video of them slinging 50 lb concrete balls. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR6c-muNrcI

  4. For crying out loud. Not every “projectile” is a weapon. Rocket ships, anyone? Shot-puts? Javelins? It’s only a weapon if someone is trying to use it to harm someone.