‘Mad’ scientist wows Katy ISD middle school students


by KHOU.com staff

Mia Gradney / KHOU 11 News

Posted on September 18, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 18 at 11:51 AM

HOUSTON – Some students at a Katy Independent School District Title I elementary school are loving their lab time, thanks to a teacher known as the "Mad Scientist."

Robert French is a colorful character in a white lab coat who has the ability to mesmerize and mold young minds at Morton Ranch Elementary school.

“There’s a lot of pops, colors, explosions and bursts of gas, and that kind of thing in our science lab,” said Principal Deb Hubbel.  

French is a retired scientist, once based out of Baylor College of Medicine, who has turned into a part-time teacher who puts in full-time hours.

“I only get paid for two-and-a-half days, but I’m here all the time because it leaves an impression on kids,” he said.

His work and wardrobe doesn’t go unnoticed by students or staff.

“He is a very colorful character on campus, and he’s known to dress up often,” Hubbel said.  

He does anything to make science more interesting and fun. French also hosts a bi-weekly drawing for student-sized lab coats. 

The children just have to submit a science fact, or tidbit, and he randomly picks a winner.

“The first time that the TEA tested our science for our school, (we) came out low in science at the fifth-grade level.  That was immediately brought to our attention,” Hubbel said.

So the school took action. Few elementary school campuses have a standalone lab and staff. Morton Ranch used Title I funds to build a lab and staff so that students, as early as pre-k, can conduct experiments.

“They aren’t tested in science until the fifth grade. So we’ll see the benefits, testing wise, of Robert’s students in a few years down the line.  But we absolutely know he makes a difference every day,” Hubbel said.

Mostly because he makes it memorable.

“It’s those wow experiments and experiences that they take on through the rest of their life,” French said.