Whoever introduced science fair projects to children before they enter high school – probably never had children!!! Kind of like those people who gave me dirty looks at Disney World for having my kids on a leash (oh I would never do that to my kid you evil parent – just you wait until you have a runner). Now, to those of you who “get off” on science fair projects (you know who you are – we all know who you are because your kid has a college quality project done) – can you PLEASE come on over to my house to help – NOW? Seriously, like none of us can tell which kids did the projects mostly on their own and those who had their parents staying up for hours to make sure their charts looked like something from a scientific journal. So lets turn on the time machine to little Greta’s school day projects. I honestly can’t remember what I did (though prisms come to mind), but know I never went to the finals but got good grades. What I do recall is that my parents certainly did not offer much help. Sherm (my dad) probably made sure I put the stuff on the poster board neatly and that was about it.
My children’s first elementary school in Texas encouraged participation in the science fair starting right away. OK – exciting to introduce science to young minds and get parents involved. But, when the cafeteria was open to viewing of these projects, puh-leeze (can you say living vicariously through your children?). Then there was the 4th grade project my son did when we lived in Oklahoma (maybe I should calculate life around science fairs). Son #1 insisted on doing something with dry ice that required parental supervision. The project was destined for failure from the beginning, but his teacher approved it and he really wanted to play with the stuff. Besides my supervision, he did this project 100% on his own – he insisted. I sent a note to the teacher that it may not be the prettiest project, but the fact that he did it on his own had to count for something. He got an A, did not move on for judging, but was so proud of himself! Then in 5th grade he did a blindfold jellybean tasting that may have been a successful project if he did not insist on people identifying tutti-fruity banana twist flavor and just stuck to the simple stuff. Again, he did it all on his own, did not move on to the “next level,” got an A and was satisfied with himself. Lucky me, I really escaped son #1’s science fairs without requiring Xanax.
Now along comes son #2, who would just assume pay someone to do his science fair for him. This project has turned into household chaos and I’m pretty sure has upped my need to cover my gray hair (which reminds me I need to color my hair today)!!! He picked some project on growing grass seed or dry seeds in various types of soil that was approved by his teacher. WTF – growing stuff with a Mother who killed a cactus – destined for FAIL. When it came time to buy the stuff, turns out I needed a forklift at Home Depot for each of the soils and NOBODY sells dry seeds in the freaking winter!!! A conversation with his teacher discussing process not product and going through the motions of a project was the most important part, relieved my anxiety (of course he was not concerned at all). I asked the teacher if there was a problem with the project, if we could we change it over Thanksgiving break since it was about process. After all, hubby and I are edumacated and certainly could choose something worthy of a 5th grade Science Fair. Here is where Mom went wrong!!! When son #2 returns to school – I am told that what we did was not science fair material – d’oh! That in order for this project (that had already required several glasses of wine) to meet science fair standards, we would have to do a ton of additional work. The killer with this experiment is that it requires human subjects (me, son #1 and Princess Whinalot), to be measured early in the morning and before bed! Try getting the Princess out of bed in the morning and making her get measured (she will be a coffee adult). The measuring usually ends with some type of punishment for son #2 and the Princess and me needing a sanity check.
So here we are in the final stretch of Christmas vacation and guess what I need to work on this week …Science Fair!!! OMG – I did my thesis and thought I closed the book on schooling – WRONG! Son #1 will be working on his social studies fair project this week and I know he will do it on his own. Please someone – save me from this 5th grade science fair hell in which I live. Gotta go run to the liquor store before we get working on this today!
If you don’t hear from me in a few days it is because I am in a peaceful place with padded walls!!!
Here is where you chime in with comments dear readers….