Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Science Fair

I went to Kyle's 7th-grade science fair tonight. I worried that his group's project was going to be embarrassingly lightweight. I needn't have. They seemed to be in the top half, trying to cook frozen pizza with various batteries. (It didn't work, so they bailed and cooked it in the sun in a reflective oven.)

Mento's and Diet Coke have replaced the baking-soda-and-vinegar foaming. There were four of the former, only two of the latter, with one team doing both for comparison. Girls did experiments with cakes, cookies, perfumes, and eye shadow. The three who tested whether vinegar makes tie-dye brighter had great marketing, wearing their creations. Science, not so much. But they got the pizazz part down pretty well.

Look, no one made the girls choose these, got it? This is what they chose.

Proofreading seems to be a weak skill these days, which seems a shame when they've got word processing with spell-check. "Light blob" was my favorite.

Ben is still king. All seven of his elementary school science projects (K-6) were better than all but one of these. That one was a boy who made a cardboard wind tunnel and tested what propeller angle generated the most power. That was at least in Ben's range. There was a girl who had a video of measuring whether her purebred dogs could learn a maze faster than mutts that was reminiscent of Ben's magnum opus, the Squirrel Video. But she had clearly lost interest after the second Jack Russell Terrier just looked at the maze and lay down.

Ben went to a small Christian elementary school which we still maintain was the best education we could have found in the state. I believe that even more tonight.

Addendum: I should mention, before I have to listen to him complain about it, that Jonathan's science fair projects in 7th and 8th grade were also magnificent.


Donna B. said...

My youngest daughter's project in her junior and senior year of high school were the same, with better documentation her senior year.

Both times the project failed, yet both times she won ribbons and a trip to the state science fair.

Her senior year she won a very nice scientific calculator and an invitation to apply for a Navy ROTC scholarship.

She didn't apply because her eyesight is far too close to being legally blind, but the invitation was nice.

My point is that failure of the experiment, if well explained, does not hamper the validity of the project.

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