Science Fair Projects

Hopefully, this is the last year that the Hobbit will be required to do a “science project” for school. I know for a fact that she will be required to conduct labs and activities in future science classes, but I have come to loathe the “science project” with the white-hot burning intensity of a thousand suns.

Speaking as a science educator myself, I have to ask; what the hell is a “science project” anyway? Is it any project at all that involves one or more principles of science? Does it have to solve some actual problem using the scientific method? Because if that’s the case then last night’s microwave dinner qualifies on both counts. Make a poster about it and call it a day.

I suspect, however, that even though the microwave dinner would qualify under the above definitions that the Hobbit would receive a fairly low score for that effort. No, instead I suspect that the teacher is looking for the student to complete a project that is sufficiently “science-y” and then have that student apply whatever generic version of the scientific method is popular at the moment. Not only is this concept almost purposefully designed to drive me insane, it is almost certainly going to cause a fight in the house.

In fact, I would like to strongly suggest that students with science teachers instead of parents should be automatically exempt from all “science projects” not because those students are somehow automatically gifted in the realm of scientific inquiry, but simply in the name of safety and sanity.

In any event, the Hobbit and I have been fighting quite a lot about her “science project.” Apparently actually being a science teacher does NOT qualify me to know anything at all of substance about how to write up a lab report, conduct an experiment, or even how to work a small solar panel (hint: go outside). This has been quite a lot of fun and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself. The same, however, cannot be said for the Hobbit.

In fact, I think that it is now perfectly obvious to her why I do not teach elementary or middle school students. Some of my favorite comments this week have been:

“Why won’t you ever answer my questions?!”

“What does that even mean?!”

“You are so mean, just tell me what to do!”


(That last one was more of a shriek as she stomped out of room in frustration, but I couldn’t figure out how to type it.)

Her “science project” is due tomorrow and it is supposed to determine if artificial light sources could power a small solar panel, but don’t be surprised if after tonight’s shouting match, she shows up tomorrow with the obligatory tri-fold poster and a Hungry Man dinner.

(Editor’s Note: No, I don’t know why this post’s title didn’t print yesterday. I apologize if that messed anyone up who receives email alerts.)


One thought on “Science Fair Projects

  1. stumpsmcgee

    This is so reminiscent of Dad trying to help me with Math and Physics!! Only I happened to be 18 years old while throwing the tantrum. 🙂


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