An ounce of cocaine can fetch as much as $1,300 on the streets of Miami, or a three-year mandatory prison sentence in criminal court.
Or it can help a fourth-grader win first place in the science fair at Coral Gables Preparatory Academy.
In fact, Emma Bartelt’s “Drug Sniffing Dogs” project earned her a spot at Saturday’s Miami-Dade County Public Schools Elementary Science Fair at Miami Dade College, alongside experiments exploring name-brand battery life and how to make plastic out of milk.
To pull off her experiment, Emma enlisted the help of her father, Detective Douglas Bartelt, and Detective William Pedraja and Sgt. Samantha Machado, according to her acknowledgments. They provided the dogs: Roger, a springer spaniel; Levi, a golden retriever; and Franky, a retired chocolate Labrador whose penchant for sniffing out pot grow houses is the focus of a pending Fourth Amendment case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
They also provided the cocaine, which is not specifically banned as a material by district science fair rules, according to a district spokesman.
Here’s how the project worked:
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.
Detective Bartelt was out of town on a training exercise Monday and unable to answer questions, according to Detective Aida Fina-Milian, a Miami-Dade Police spokeswoman. Fina-Milian said the cocaine in the experiment was a training aid used by the department’s canine handlers.
In a statement, school district spokesman John Schuster said the project “fits in with principles of investigation outlined in the handbook” for science projects...
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