Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Science Fair Project

If you have a kid in middle school, you have probably, at some time in your child's illustrious educational career, dealt with your child's science fair project.

Now, there are different levels of the phrase "dealt with".

DEFCON 4: Your child tells you that they are going to be doing a science fair project. You never hear about it again until parent/teacher conferences when your child's teacher tells you that they were disappointed in your child's failing entry into the science fair three weeks ago. You may now consider yourself a front runner for parent of the year.

DEFCON 3: Your child, after telling you a few days ago that they were going to do a science fair project, waits until 9 p.m on a Sunday night to tell you that they need a tri-fold display board NOW and their project is due the next day. As you can start to calculate how this adverse middle school experience will affect your child's future financial aid and entrance into MIT, you realize you have a choice. You can either jump up and rush out to purchase this display board thus teaching your child nothing about procrastination and consequences, or you can look them directly in the eye and say "Sucks to be you." I strongly recommend the latter.

DEFCON 2: Your child presents you with a handful of ideas for a science fair project but can't seem to decide what to do. You immediately hop on the internet, print out reams of information on each topic, and hand them to your child. After which, you start to brainstorm a hypothesis for each topic as your child is crushed beneath the weight of, what might be the last physical set of Encyclopedia Britannicas in the western world.

DEFCON 1: You read in your child's school newsletter that the science fair is coming up. Even though your child has not mentioned participating in it, you come up with a topic, all the supporting information, you run out to the garage and fashion a high end wooden display board with electric lights, you put it all together, and then present it to your child. Your child then tells you that science fairs are dumb.

As I watched my son finish his project last night, we started getting a little loopy. Always the positive influence, I had a couple of science fair topic suggestions:

Do a basic science fair project on some boring subject. As the judges approach you and start asking questions, get immediately defensive. Move into extreme paranoia. Before the end of their judging, begin laughing hysterically and then collapse, weeping in a heap on the gymnasium floor. The judges move away from your display cautiously, not daring to turn their backs. What they don't know is that your real topic was society's reaction to mental illness.


Have a completly white, blank display board with no supportive information anywhere. When the judges ask you what your topic is, you can say you were investigating the effects of marijuana use on productivity.

And then ask them if they have any food.

That's me. Always there for the children.

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