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I was reminded of the annual Science Fair drill when my sister's son solicited my family to be study participants in his project. He was conducting a study on the effects of sitting in a hot tub on a person's blood pressure. We had to first sign permission forms, and then have our blood pressure recorded before and after immersing ourselves in a hot tub.
It did not appear as though it was my nephew's project, as my sister slapped her blood pressure cuff on the study participants, screamed the results at her son, and then double-checked what he wrote down. It was a little tense. Just saying.
My oldest son always did bogus projects, and always seemed to win a prize. In fact, in 8th grade he and his best friend advanced to the county-level competition. Their project attempted to determine the distance a football traveled at various weights. About 30 minutes after they started the experiment I asked them if they needed a piece of paper and pencil to record their results. "Oh, okay," was their response. The boys spent several hours throwing the football, but it mostly looked like a catch.
I'm guessing most of the data was manufactured, which is probably no surprise to anyone who is a teacher, or a parent with science project experience. Their display board was put together by my younger son, who was 7 years old at the time, whose OCD was put to perfect use lining up the letters on the poster board. I was grateful for his help.
At our school, the Science Fair Open House was a big night for the kids, as they proudly stood next to their display boards and tried to answer questions about their project. I remember walking around the Open House and observing some poster boards that looked as though they were put together by a middle schooler and thinking, "That's a shame they didn't have anyone to help them." That's weird, a middle school project that looked like it was completed by a middle schooler!
Admit it, you helped your kids, and on the day the projects were judged, you asked, "How did WE do?" Come on? I know I'm not the only one, and I just told you about my sister. (Remember, I've warned you before that this is not a blog where you'll find Good Parenting Tips.)
How did we end up getting so involved in our kids' school work? I don't think my mother knew what grade I was in most years. Don't be critical, she probably could get within +/- one year. That's pretty good for 8 kids. I, on the other hand, know everything about every teacher my kids have ever had. Just kidding, a little.
I know there is no way my mother would have driven me to Michael's Craft Store to spend money on a display board and other supplies for a science project. She would have said, "That's a ridiculous waste of time and money." And, I think she might have been on to something.
Okay, I'm sure some kids are good at this kind of stuff, and maybe I'm just being sour grapes because we're not "science" people in our house. Well, maybe I am a little, if you count studying the results of various wrinkle creams as science.
A possible solution to the Science Fair Project dilemma might be to hold an "optional" Science Fair for those kids who have an interest in all things science. The rest of the kids can participate in a Dodge Ball Tournament. My boys would have been all over that option.
Any Science teachers reading this, please don't get mad at me, I'm just making an observation about the cost/benefit analysis of the amount of time and money expended on Science Fair projects. And, don't forget the energy spent on the family fighting that goes on in pursuit of a coveted 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place ribbon. Honorable Mention ribbons don't count. Just ask any kid that's ever gotten one.
As an aside, we went out to celebrate the Science Fair win. Of course, there was a celebration. My son wanted sushi and my husband who typically handles the ordering was not with us, so I ordered six sushi rolls. My son wanted six pieces, but what I ordered was 36 pieces because I did not know that a sushi roll = six pieces of sushi.
I was hysterical laughing as the waiters brought out tray after tray of sushi to the table. Apparently, I'm not a math person either.