Last night I received an email from the Hobbit’s Uber Teacher about the impending Science Fair. Apparently every year there is a science fair and students are required to research and build a science project. Of course what this really means is that we find out which parents are still trying to live out their competitive fantasies through their children and which parents have chosen to grow up.
It’s always painfully obvious to everyone which projects are completed by the parents; they either explode, light up, or otherwise require a minor in mechanical engineering. It is also perfectly clear which students received no adult help; their projects involve potatoes in water, plants in the various stages of death, or possibly paper airplanes.
I know that as a science educator I’m supposed to get all excited about science fairs, but the truth is that I can barely tolerate them. Very rarely is any actual research or investigation going on and even when a project tackles an interesting question, it is a certainty that the student was unable to procure the grant money they needed and the results are at best “inconclusive.”
You can imagine I’m sure my excitement and enthusiasm when the Hobbit asked me this morning, “Dad, what should I do for my science project?”
“Why don’t you discover a way to store electrical energy in liquid metals?”
“Come on, be serious!”
“I suppose that would take too long to start from scratch… Why don’t you attempt to cross breed earthworm varieties to produce the perfect vermiculture creature?”
(Now I’m obviously exasperated with this whole thing) “Fine, then why don’t you just try to find out which brand of gum’s flavor lasts the longest or something?”
“Hey, that’s a great idea! Thanks, Dad!”
I have no idea if she was serious or not, but I can just picture the display board now; wads of gum. You know that the truly sad part is that she’ll probably win a prize for such groundbreaking work.