As a young student, I really didn’t have to work as hard as my peers to get good grades. I was diagnosed with exceptional reading skills at a very young age and I think that helped a great deal. While not a textbook overachiever, I completed my studies and graduated from high school with honors.
I did well with research papers, “essay questions” and (using the one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others rule of eliminating incorrect responses) anything with multiple choice answers. The projects where I encountered the most difficulty were usually those that required a bit of marketing ingenuity and/or salesmanship. For me, the annual Science Fair was an extraordinary challenge.
I made posters.
While the other kids were building things, conducting experiments and making messes in the gymnasium, I exhibited posters. Usually three, so that when attached side-by-side they could stand on their own, boring posters. Of course, I’d use every color marker in the package and if stencils were available create my own fonts. One year I got fancy and used a “black light”. I consistently received “Bs” for my efforts even though I thought some were just awful. Maybe I should have used drugs.
While a fourth grader in Washington, DC was charged with drug possession for bringing cocaine to school, Emma Bartelt of Miami, Florida won a prize.
Bartelt, 10, used twenty-eight grams of cocaine in her science experiment, which won first place at a fair at Coral Gables Preparatory Academy. Her mother said her daughter did not come in direct contact with the illicit substance during the experiment, which tested the responses of three drug-sniffing dogs. The experiment was conducted at police facilities and under constant supervision.
Emma, who was awarded an honorable mention, couldn’t have done it without the help of the Miami-Dade Police Narcotics Bureau where her father serves as a detective. The Bureau provided three narcotics detector canines as well as the powder cocaine for her experiment.
“The student’s science project involved a very unusual set of circumstances, including having a parent who is a well-respected police detective with experience in training dogs that sniff for illegal substances. From our understanding, the parent was the only person involved in working directly with the dogs and the hidden substances, which took place at a police training facility.” – John Schuster, School District Spokesman
When I was ten, we had to do our own experiments! If our parents were mad scientists they weren’t allowed to help! That was cheating! When I was making my posters, BY MYSELF, the concept of a dog sniffing for drugs was foreign to me. My friends and I didn’t know what drugs were … unless someone made posters about them for the Science Fair.
Have you ever participated in a Science Fair? What was your experiment? Do you think this girl’s parents went too far?
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