Science Fair musings

This week I was listening to a sermon on CD that a friend lent to me, and the opening anecdote had something to do with science fairs. The pastor said that, instead of fundraisers like candy bars, the school should just offer to let the parents pay $45 not to create a science fair project, and millions would be raised.

I came home and asked Mike if he had ever done a science fair project. He said he remembered his brother’s project – the traditional vinegar-and-baking-soda volcano, and that he was pretty sure that he made one that had something to do with the solar system. I remember Joseph and Dad working on his projects (although I can’t remember what any of them were). I remember projects in The Baby-Sitters Club books (seeing how classical music affects plants). But I never made a science fair project.

I can’t figure out how this happened. Aren’t they usually required? I have a couple of theories. One is that, in the 5th grade, I was in a 5/6 combination class, so I got to change classes like the 6th graders, and I might have missed out on traditional things like the Science Fair. The other theory is that, during my middle school years, my school was torn down (it was a K-8 school that my grandparents had gone to, so it was very old) and we were in trailers for much of the time. Maybe they didn’t do a Science Fair since we didn’t have an auditorium, just a gym. (I’m pretty sure that second one isn’t true, because I have a vague memory of Joseph’s projects being set up in that very gym.)

Both of those theories sound like junk to me, but it’s all I can think of. And it’s not as if I just forgot. I honestly never made one. I remember my enormous project on the USSR that I got 100 on, and that my teacher requested I bring back the next year, after the Soviet Union had split up. I remember the math project on base 4. I remember Joseph’s project on Georgia, where Mom took an orange Nerf ball and put a long stitch into one side of it to create a peach. I remember Joseph’s Pinewood Derby cars, and those Saturdays spent at the Fire Department watching him race them. They always seemed to fall on a Saturday when there was a big basketball game, and I would hang out with the men who kept sneaking outside to check the score on the radio. I remember projets on the Incas, and on North Carolina, and on Farmer McBroom. And all of those were before high school.

Anyway, if I were to do a project, I have always been interested to see how that Baby-Sitters Club thing really did work, and to play classical music for plants. Not very original, I know. But it’s the closest I ever got to the Science Fair. So, tell me about your Science Fair experiences. I want to hear about what you did, and what prizes you won, and that time you had to set your project that you were a little embarassed about next to the kid who is probably well on his way to winning the Nobel Prize.

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  1. oh oh OH, I HATED science fair projects. I had to do them in 7th, 8th and 9th grades. In 7th grade I got a D because I forgot to do it until the last minute, so by the time 8th grade rolled around, I was PETRIFIED of science fair projects. I took forEVER to select a topic, and my teacher finally threatened me. She said that I either had to pick something by the next day or else write a 20 page research paper instead. I didn’t realize until years and YEARS later that she was trying to scare me into picking a dadgum topic–I chose to do the paper instead. πŸ˜‰ And you know what? I got an A and could have written many pages MORE about radon (my topic of choice… I have NO IDEA how I ended up choosing it, though. Random much?).

    Ironically, in 9th grade my teacher wanted to send my project to the actual school science fair (we only had so many go from each class), but I would’t let her ’cause I didn’t want to participate.

    Posted 2/11/2005 at | Permalink
  2. you didn’t miss out. I had to do one from the 4th or 5th grade through the 8th. and I hated every minute of it. I remember making a tarnish remover with baking soda and…umm….ah, who knows? Sulfuric acid?

    Then there was one that I used something with wires. All I remember is that I did it the night before.

    Posted 2/11/2005 at | Permalink
  3. The LSW, a former science teacher and board member of a regional science fair, is sitting next to me right now very, very discouraged πŸ˜†

    I think its good for her to have to face all the lives she traumatized!

    Actually, I think I would’ve liked science if I’d had her for a teacher…and not just because I would’ve been “hot for teacher”

    Posted 2/12/2005 at | Permalink
  4. Karyn

    I earn my nickname “LSW” each and every day.

    Posted 2/12/2005 at | Permalink
  5. In second grade I did “Why do cats have rough tongues?” — not so much a science fair project as a research project πŸ™‚ But in middle school (I can’t remember what year… maybe 7th or 8th?) I tested different balloon materials to see which one held helium and stayed afloat the longest. Much more scientific. Though none of my stuff EVER won a prize!

    I was always far more interested in the English/History projects anyway (sayeth the soon-to-be doctor, haha). We did a project on the Ku Klux Klan for History Day in 6th grade, and in 8th grade we did a combo English/History project based on all the lyrics to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (I had Princess Grace, Bridge on the River Kwai, and Belgians in the congo :))

    Posted 2/12/2005 at | Permalink
  6. I definitely don’t feel like I missed out. I just wonder how I GOT out of it. hehehehe.

    (Sorry, Karyn.)

    Posted 2/12/2005 at | Permalink
  7. I had to do science projects from Kindergarten through 8th grade. That’s a lot of projects. In Kindergarten, I did the candle in a jar to prove that flames needed air to stay lit. In 5th grade, my friend and I did a joint science project that we entered into the county fair and won a computer for our school…and Apple IIe. We then entered that same project in a state science fair, in which we won 3rd place or something. I got a $50 savings bond for that. Our project was called, “Electromagnetism and the visible spectrum of light”. Basically we measured how much electricity was produced by each color of the spectrum. I also did a project on the boiling points of liquids…one on the sounds that different size and length rubberbands produce (kind of like a primitive guitar)…and one on handwriting analysis. That’s all I can remember really. And this comment is like blog entry size. πŸ™‚

    Posted 2/12/2005 at | Permalink
  8. It surprises me that you didn’t do them, Kari, as I know it does you. Predictably, I did lots of SF projects, and mine usually kicked ass. Mind you, I had an engineer for a father, but he was also really dead set on doing any of my work for me. πŸ™‚

    Posted 2/12/2005 at | Permalink
  9. I did one on solar power in 6th grade. It was lame. Lame. Lame. Lame. I was never creative enough to come up with anything cool for science fairs.

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  10. Rhonda…Apple IIe’s rock.

    That is all.

    Posted 2/12/2005 at | Permalink
  11. Sarah

    The only one I remember was my sixth grade “Which Materials Insulate The Best?” project. I used a shoebox and a little cup of water, lined the shoebox with various materials (aluminum foil, cotton batting, newspaper, that fuzzy yellow insulating stuff used in houses), and put water at a certain temperature (I think it was near-boiling, maybe 200*?) in the little “house” for 15 minutes, and measured what the temperature drop was after that amount of time. It was pretty boring and my tri-fold foam board display didn’t look cool like a lot of people’s did, but it got a B. Oh well. I did always hate science projects though, because there was a girl in my class whose mom ALWAYS helped her do something fantastic, and the rest of us were jealous. πŸ˜›

    Posted 2/13/2005 at | Permalink
  12. I remember one year I did “Old MacDonald’s Ant Farm” and another year I did something about electric circuits.

    Posted 2/14/2005 at | Permalink

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