I’m feeling drained this New Years. In fact, I blew off my resolution to join a gym so I could stay home and drink wine. I feel stressed because my kid wants to take part in the school science fair. From the moment I picked her up from school, I was overwhelmed. We returned from a vacation late the night before, so I had groceries to put away, dishes to clean, dinner to start, laundry to begin and a middle schooler who needed help with her math homework. My 3rd grader was now demanding I understand the excitement of science fair? She insisted I arrange playdates to recreate experiments from you-tube and get her signed up for science fair NOW! If that wasn’t enough, she was adamant that we go to the store and get tonic water and potato starch right away, so she can make glowing slime.
What kinda of sadistic elementary school sends out a science fair flyer the Monday after a two week break?
My usual New Year’s goals include plans to put the Christmas decorations away, clean up the mess and exercise. My 3rd grader shut those down with her wish to play (whoops, I meant participate) in the science fair. My child is excited about “science fair”, but I’m not.
My 3rd grader needs constant interaction with people and prefers team work, therefore, she arranged to partner with two other children in the science fair. After a few outlandish science fair ideas, the group of three settled on making cat shaped gummy bears. Not an easy project for an eight year old. The only redeeming quality about that idea is that it has to do with food.
Science fair is everything I hate about the portrayal of science. Why do schools insist science has to be flashy experiments? Science is about the right questions and answers. Outlandish experiments that require resources and skills that young children do not have, force parents to spend time and energy modifying their kid’s dream project to a reasonable project. Science fair is for extroverts who like to show off and make science “exciting”.
Science is a curiosity to understand things. I am off the opinion that science is most interesting and fun when it involves food.
- Why does popcorn pop?
- What happens when you leave the milk out of the refrigerator?
- Why do apples turn brown?
- Do you really need eggs in cookie recipes?
- What’s the taste difference between gluten and gluten free bread?
As a kid, my favorite book series was ” I Wonder Why?”. It made me feel ok about my questions and my infinite curiosity. My perfect Science Fair would be themed “I Wonder Why?” and would feature children talking about their questions and trying to find answers.
I’ve made little progress teaching my child science. She told me she already knows why popcorn pops and it’s boring. Maybe there is hope and when we make “glowing slime” she will have questions about tonic water? I have experience formulating tonic water and it would be interesting to explore bittering agents: quinine, caffeine, gentian root extract, and naringin. Is one of the bittering agents important for “glowing slime”? If I tell her bitter is the “In Flavor” will this be flashy enough?