L.A. teacher suspended after science projects confused as weapons

The Los Angeles Unified School District has suspended a science teacher after two of his students made science projects that school officials thought looked like weapons.

The L.A. Times is reporting that science teacher Greg Schiller, a popular teacher at Ramon C. Cortines High School and a representative to the L.A. teacher’s union, has been suspended over two controversial science projects his students made in February.

Photo via Change.org

When one student brought in the parts for a compressed air propeller, much like the one President Obama had fun with at last year’s White House science fair, a school employeee grew alarmed by its resemblance to a weapon. The compressor was not hooked up to a source of compressed air, so it could not have been fired.

Another student attempted to create an electromagnetic coilgun using batteries and a projectile tube—a common contraption for science fairs. Both projects were confiscated, however, and Schiller was suspended for “supervising the building, research, and development of imitation weapons.”

While Schiller is out of the classroom, his students have complained they’re being taught by substitute teachers who aren’t prepared to teach his curriculum, which includes preparing college-bound students for upcoming Advanced Placement tests. Although Schiller had prepared lesson plans for the substitute teachers, school officials made him stop.

“The class is now essentially a free period,” 17-year-old psychology student Liana Kleinman told the Times.

In response to Schiller’s suspension, students and supporters have protested, both at the school and online, via a Change.org petition and the hashtag #reinstateschiller.

Photo via Facebook

Although Schiller has gotten support from the United Teachers of Los Angeles, numerous students, and the L.A. Timeseditorial board, the investigation into his hands-on teaching methods is still ongoing.

H/T BoingBoing Photo via mightyohm/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Aja Romano

Aja Romano

Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.