Monday, January 19, 2009

Science Teacher: Tesla Coil is Safe

The following testimony took place between 2:29 P.M. and 2:45 P.M. on 1/16/09.

Steven Farmer—an eighth grade science teacher at Mount Vernon Middle School for a period of four years ending in 2005—testified about his experiences with the Tesla coil. (Farmer is currently a science teacher at Mount Vernon High School.)

Farmer used the Tesla coil during lessons on gases and electricity.

Using the Tesla coil on students allows them to experience the flow of electrons first hand, Farmer said. One way Farmer used it was for him to touch the device and then have a student touch his hand. The other way was for them to touch it directly. Farmer said that he never used it on anyone’s arm.

(Witnesses and those who came to watch the Freshwater termination hearing on Friday faced sub zero temperatures.)

If the Tesla coil is grabbed tight it does not hurt, Farmer said. However, he does not think that a person would leave their finger on the device for long. Farmer said that he has only used the device on someone for a second, or a few seconds, at a time.

The first time that Farmer remembers seeing the Tesla coil was when he was a student at the middle school. Farmer said that he had Jeff George as a science teacher but does not remember if George used the device on anyone.

The Mount Vernon News managing editor Samantha Scoles interviewed George for an article they published on April 25, 2008, titled “Experiments typical part of curriculum”: “George said that in his lessons he used Telsa coils and the Vandergraph conductor, a smaller version of a device found at COSI that sends your hair in all directions when touched.”

When Farmer teaches science, he brings in material to supplement what is provided by the school. Most of the outside material is from research done on the internet which Farmer puts into slides he creates in Microsoft’s PowerPoint program, Farmer said.

Kelly Hamilton, John Freshwater’s attorney, asked Farmer if teachers have wide latitude in what they can bring into the classroom. Farmer agreed that they do.

Hamilton asked Farmer if there had been any instructions with the Tesla coil. Farmer was not sure if there were any written instructions—he said that he probably received general instructions on how to use it.

The report by H.R. On Call, Inc. contained the statement, “There was no written instructions that could be located with the device, however operating instructions were available and could be downloaded from the company’s website.” The warning in the downloadable manual is to “Never touch or come in contact with the high voltage output of this device, nor with any device it is energizing.”

Hamilton asked Farmer if he had ever thought to look for instructions on the web about using the device.

Farmer replied that he never searched the web for instructions.

Hamilton reminded Farmer about his statement that he used the web for research when preparing lessons. Hamilton then asked—since Farmer was comfortable with using the internet—why he did not look for that information on the web.

Farmer’s response was that he did not go looking for more information because he already felt comfortable in his ability to use the Tesla coil.

Hamilton brought out the exhibit of the two photos supplied by the Dennis family. Hamilton asked Farmer to look at the photos and tell him if he had ever seen anything, as a result of using the Tesla coil, that looked like what was depicted in the images.

The two photos show someone’s arm, allegedly that of Zach Dennis, with what appears to be burn marks. In one photo the burns appear as the shape of a capital “T.” The second photo the burns form the shape of a lower case “t.” (There are also what appears to be additional red lines running parallel to the trunk of the “T.” The camera angle, and the lighting, is such that these lines are de-emphasized.)

After examining the photos, Farmer said that he has never seen marks like that from his use of the Tesla coil. There has never been any blisters, raised skin or red marks, Farmer said.

Farmer said he has never received any complaints about Freshwater.
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(The electrostatic device is manufactured by Electro-Technic Products, Inc. Photo. )

8 comments:

mk said...

Look what info I found on the Tesla Coil-

Even lower power vacuum tube or solid state Tesla Coils can deliver RF currents that are capable of causing temporary internal tissue, nerve, or joint damage through Joule heating. In addition, an RF arc can carbonize flesh, causing a painful and dangerous bone-deep RF burn that may take months to heal. Because of these risks, knowledgeable experimenters avoid contact with streamers from all but the smallest systems. Professionals usually use other means of protection such as a Faraday cage or a chain mail suit to prevent dangerous currents from entering their body.

Freshwater was using a solid state Tesla coil, if I understand the news articles correctly. Knowing that these sparks can cause deep tissue and bone damage in extreme cases, I suspect that I would not allow students to experience shocks as a normal course of a science classroom, especially from an industrial device not designed with multiple safety escapes built in.

http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/torturing-children-the-constitution-and-a-teachers-duty-to-protect-children/

Ed said...

You christian crazies have taken this nonsense too far already. He should be fired immediately and all his supporters should be sued to cover court costs. I hope he loses his job, pension and his family is forced to live in a cardboard box.

mountvernon1805 said...

Ed,

How long ago did you convict Freshwater of the allegations against him?

Do you think all the teachers who have stated the Tesla coil is safe, are wrong?

What do you make of the testimony from witnesses that state they have never known Freshwater to preach from his Bible at the school?

Would you say that a teacher who has the class with highest passing rate on the OAT, for MVMS, is not trying to be the best teacher that he can be?

You stated in your comment that this teacher should be fired immediately. That’s funny. The students at MVMS were planning a walkout last spring if the school board made an immediate firing of him.

Oh, and Ed, do you normally wish for people’s family to have to live in a cardboard box?

mk said...

Sam,
"How long ago did you convict Freshwater of the allegations against him?"
When he admitted under oath to many of the ALLEGATIONS.

"Do you think all the teachers who have stated the Tesla coil is safe, are wrong?"
Do you think the other students who said their mark lasted for a couple of weeks, or the Medical Doctor who said electrical burns are not safe and can cause underlying damage, are all wrong? I would say that teachers, who didn't even get an user manual, are not experts on the device.

"What do you make of the testimony from witnesses that state they have never known Freshwater to preach from his Bible at the school?"
None of them were in his room during class time. (except Spitzer, and that was YEARS ago)
What about the testimony from earlier witnesses who WERE in the room who saw things? Especially the video he showed, and the sub who heard him tell his view of homosexuality.


"Would you say that a teacher who has the class with highest passing rate on the OAT, for MVMS, is not trying to be the best teacher that he can be?"
No one says he isn't trying to be the best teacher he can be. They are saying he teaches things he shouldn't be teaching.

"You stated in your comment that this teacher should be fired immediately. That’s funny. The students at MVMS were planning a walkout last spring if the school board made an immediate firing of him."
Popularity has nothing to do with a teacher over stepping their bounds.

"Oh, and Ed, do you normally wish for people’s family to have to live in a cardboard box?"
I am sure Mr Freshwater can get a job in the religious sector. I also hear his wife has a good job.

mk said...

You say-
1st: Freshwater has never been under oath. He has not testified at the hearing. The interviews conducted by H.R. On Call, Inc. were not conducted with any of the people under oath—though they probably should have been and this error may cause the report to be thrown out by the hearing referee.

WRONG! He did testify.
He testified in OCTOBER!
"Three witnesses testified today, Zachary Dennis, the boy who was (allegedly) burned with a Tesla coil, his mother Jenifer Dennis, and Freshwater."
This is from Pandas Thumb
http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/10/

you say-
"Unless I missed something there has only been one student/parents claiming a mark that lasted for a couple of weeks."
Yes you missed something. There was a witness early on who said it happened to him.
"Simon Souhrada testimony

As noted, Simon is a junior at Mt. Vernon high school and had Freshwater for 8th grade science in 2005-2006. He testified that Freshwater also burned his arm with a cross using the Tesla coil but that he didn’t report it to his parents. He said that the mark was visible for two or three weeks."

This is also from Pandas Thumb.
http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/11/freshwater-day-1.html#more


You say:
"The room monitor spent six weeks in Freshwater’s classroom. Some of the other witnesses spent time with Freshwater coaching."

Who is going to continue to do something when there is a monitor in their room? How about Katie Beach and Kerri Mahan? They were in his room all year. I don't think anyone has complained about his coaching. You should really go back and read all the testimony from the beginning of the hearing.

mountvernon1805 said...

mk,
Thanks for providing the info on Freshwater from day 3, I missed reading about that.

mk said...

I assumed by the name of your blog,

Accountability in the Media

that you would have read up on the whole story.

Levi said...

in regard to the "burn" lasting for a couple weeks, I talked to one of the students who talked to Zach Denise the following day about the experiment he said Zach described the experiment as 'cool' but when Zach showed him his arm, the student I talked to said you couldn't tell what it saw because the mark was so faint. If the mark was so faint the next day that you can hardly see it, it wouldn't last 'a couple weeks'. Also since his mother has some background in med, if she had any concerns about it she should have taken him to a hospital/ doctor.

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