Carrying an ounce of cocaine (with a street value of $1,300) can land drug dealers in prison for three years plus, but for one fourth-grader it helped earn her a school prize!
Emma Bartelt, a 10-year-old girl from Miami, Florida, was given the illegal narcotic by her own father - for a science project called Drug Sniffing Dogs - earning her a spot at the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Elementary Science Fair last weekend, where she won an honorable mention.
The highly unusual school project was made possible thanks to the help of the Miami-Dade Police Narcotics Bureau, Emma's dad, Detective Douglas Bartelt, and a trio of drug-sniffing dogs, reported the Miami Herald.
Bizarrely, despite being classified by the U.S. Drugs Enforcement Administration as a schedule II controlled substance, making it illegal to possess or consume without the written prescription of a licensed practitioner, cocaine is not banned from being used as a project material by district science fair rules - and apparently, neither were Roger, a springer spaniel; Levi, a golden retriever nor Franky, a retired chocolate Labrador who is an expert in sniffing out pot houses!
"It was kinda my idea, because I wanted to do my dad’s job,”said aspiring DEA officer Emma as she proudly showed off her prize of a blue ribbon, while her mother was keen to emphasize that the little girl didn't actually get to handle any of the drugs herself.
The secret to the project's success was keeping it simple and letting the circumstances speak for themselves, as revealed by the Herald: "Put on plastic gloves. Place 28 grams of cocaine in metal box and hide box inside 'Room A.' Release canine into room and begin timing. Stop timer when canine finds box. Move box into 'Room B.' Repeat."
Meanwhile, school district spokesman John Schuster confirmed that everything was legal and above board, explaining that the experiment “fits in with principles of investigation outlined in the handbook” for science projects.
"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," he said.
Looks like the good old days of dads and kids building exploding baking soda volcanoes for school projects are definitely over!