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.