MacGyver is giving a class at Dillard High School a demonstration on equilibrium to a less than enthused remedial class. He tries to convince one student, Deron, that equilibrium is important in football. MacGyver has Deron come up and provides a demonstration of how he can topple Devon using his lower center of gravity. Deron is impressed despite himself. After the bell rings, the regular teacher, Gus, congratulates MacGyver but one student, Tony, Milani, says the entire thing was dumb. The teacher admits that Tony is on his way to becoming a dropout.
Elsewhere in the school, Pete meets with the principal, Mrs. Juarez, a teacher who is trying to help teenagers deal with pregnancy issues. She warns that one of her students probably won’t graduate. Pete admits that if the Foundation’s pilot program can work at Dillard, it should work anywhere. They’re interrupted when two students run by with gang colors. Mrs. Juarez tells them to remove them while Pete talks to MacGyver and Gus, who takes them to the new science scholarship competition lab. Tony stops by the lab while Gus shows one of the student's demonstration. Using a remote, Tony causes the display to blow up and the student goes after him. Tony runs and the other student, Mike, chases after him. MacGyver picks up the remote Tony used and goes after them. Tony gets the drop on Mike but MacGyver pulls them apart and congratulates Tony on his skill, then wonders why he destroyed Mike’s project. One teacher, George Fraley, arrives and talks of how Tony tears down everything he can. Much to Pete’s surprise, security guards armed with guns take Tony away in handcuffs. Fraley tells them to come down from their ivory tower and stop coddling troublemakers like Tony. MacGyver explains to Pete that Fraley is one of their toughest critics.
At a construction site, Tony’s father Nick gets a call that his son is in trouble. At a nearby site, owner Neil warns his foreman Buck Clovis that they're two weeks behind schedule and losing money. He tells Buck to be creative and do what he has to.
MacGyver is in the office when Nick comes by to pick up Tony and demand to know what he has to say for himself. Mrs. Juarez calls them in and Nick tells his son that if he doesn't want to be in school, he should quit and get a decent job.
Later, Pete meets with the teachers and tries to convince them that the Foundation's anti-dropout program, Project Uplift, is critical to helping students. He explains that the mentor program pinpoints dropouts before it's too late and then assigns two role models to them. Fraley is still unimpressed but MacGyver notes that the program doesn't cost anything. Fraley storms out, insisting that what they're proposing is new-age philosophy. The program consists of appoint two role models, a teacher and a volunteer from the community. MacGyver has suggested Tony be the test subject and has volunteered to be the community mentor. He suggests that Fraley work as the teacher mentor.
MacGyver and Fraley go to Tony's home and the teacher insists that he isn't there voluntarily. They meet with Nick and his wife Sophie, and Nick immediately goes on the defensive. MacGyver realizes that he can't read the letter lifting Tony's suspension. Nick would rather Tony stay out of school and get a job rather than embarrass his parents. Sophie convinces him to let them talk to Tony and takes them down to the basement where he has an electronics laboratory. Fraley informs him his suspension has been lifted but Tony says he's going back to work. When MacGyver starts reading his blueprints, Tony yanks them away. MacGyver tries to get through to him, noting he wants to be an electrical engineer and he has a real talent for it. He tells Tony to be there in science lab the next day. As they go, Fraley insists Tony won't be there. MacGyver offers him a wager: if Tony doesn't show up, Fraley is out of the program. If Tony does show up, Fraley runs the program. The teacher agrees to the wager.
The next day, Tony arrives at the science lab, much to Fraley's surprise. Once a disgusted Fraley leaves, Tony admits that his dad thinks he's looking for a job. He tells MacGyver that he'll pick the right time to tell Nick what he's doing. They go into the remedial class and provide a demonstration on nuclear testing for earthquakes using a densometer. With Tony's help, MacGyver demonstrations how it tests soil density and Tony notes it would be useful in construction work.
Tony returns home and shows his mother the readmittance slip he earned to all his classes. She's thrilled to hear it but Nick tells him that he's got him a high-paying job at the construction site.
At the high school, Pete tells MacGyver and Fraley that Washington will be sending an observer in a week. However, Fraley tells them that he's learned that Tony has dropped out of school for good.
At the site, Nick mentions to Buck that the concrete seems thinner than when they tested. Buck dismisses his concerns but notices an inspector checking the support columns. Meanwhile, MacGyver arrives to talk to Tony and ask why he changed his mind. Tony claims it's a great job but MacGyver wonders if he's not just echoing his father's opinion. He gives Tony engineering scholarship forms and says he needs to decide what he wants to be doing thirty years from now. Nick comes over and tells MacGyver to leave. As he leaves, MacGyver tells Tony to contact him if he needs anything but Tony says he won't.
Buck meets with the building inspector inside a trailer, and the man warns him that they're under code. They're unaware that Tony has entered the next room and heard their discussion. He watches as Buck pays off the inspector to throw away the report. Once they're gone, Tony takes the report out of the garbage can and goes to see his father. Nick takes the report and glances at it, unconcerned, and then tells Tony to mind his own business. Buck overhears them talking and asks Nick what's going on, but Nick denies he or Tony understood what it meant and hands it over. Buck burns the report as Tony watches.
That night, MacGyver is writing a report on Tony for Mrs. Juarez. Fraley comes in and when MacGyver points out he's part of the system, Fraley insists he was once full of innovative ideas. However, overflowing classes and disinterested students crushed him. MacGyver tells him that he can still make a difference and that he has to stop taking his frustrations out on his students. He suggests that Fraley get back in touch with his younger caring self. They're interrupted when a teacher chases Tony through the hallways. Tony insists that he wanted to borrow earthquake-testing device to use at the construction site. MacGyver and Fraley talk to him privately and Tony explains that his dad read the report and must be in on it. The report is burned but MacGyver suggests a way to recover it. He has Fraley keep the school open while he goes to the construction site with Tony. MacGyver sneaks in past the security guard and gets the burnt paper. However, as he crawls out his foot goes through a catwalk board, trapping him. Tony tosses his wallet into the site and then calls to the guard, Skip, asking for his flashlight. he claims he lost his wallet and then finds it. Meanwhile, MacGyver pulls his feet free and makes his escape.
Back at the school, MacGyver manages to flatten out the burn paper and then place it between two panels of glass. Finally he uses a camera with infrared film to bring out the phosphoresce in the ink. The report confirms that the site isn't up to standards. Tony still thinks his father is in on it, but MacGyver explains that Nick can't read and has been pretending. Tony is relieved that his father isn't in on it. They go to the construction site to warn Nick.
At the site, Buck informs his boss that they're back on schedule. Nick is working under a support floor when it collapses, trapping him under a slab of concrete. Tony and MacGyver arrive and Nick manages to use a rock to signal them that he's alive. Using a support beam, MacGyver and the crew lift the slab long enough to get Nick out. Tony tells him what they've discovered and MacGyver stops Neil and Buck when they try to make a break for it. Nick starts to explain he can't read but Tony says that he knows and that he loves him.
Later, Tony tells MacGyver, Fraley, and Pete that his father is being released from the hospital. Nick will be taking night classes so he can learn to read and Fraley offers his services, admitting he's starting to get excited about education again.