Monday, March 24, 2014

Why the Science Fair Project Kit Should Come With Wine. by Hilary

These teachers have got it all wrong. If they want parents to participate in school projects, they should send home a bottle of wine. Or a 6-pack of beer. Or a flask of vodka.
My oldest son is in first grade, and this past Monday he came home with an informational packet for the science fair. His teacher had put a sticky note on it that said, "The Science Fair is not required for first grade, but Logan showed an interest."
Of course he did. Thank you, Ms. M.
(I LOVE Ms. M., by the way. She's absolutely GREAT with the kids and with Logan. But doesn't she know that a Science Fair Project for a first grader is actually a Science Fair Project for the parents?)
At first, I thought, "Okay, this is going to be fun."
Logan and I sat down and looked at the website the packet provided. We chose a few different things like human behavior and biology and physics.
We narrowed the field to 5 or so projects. One of them was "Is smiling really contagious?"
He chose, "Which Surface Area Requires the Least Amount of Energy for Dribbling a Basketball?"
The concept: find out which surface area the ball bounces best on.
We decided to make a spreadsheet.
Logan insisted on typing. We typed in the different surface areas we'd bounce the ball on: grass, tile, concrete, carpet, wood floor, dirt, rocks, a pillow.
The spreadsheet typing took about 7 minutes.

"Science fair projects are a lot of work," Logan says.
Every day for the next several days, he wanted to begin bouncing the ball. I told him we had to wait until the weekend.
FINALLY the weekend arrived. We decided we'd put up a measuring tape, drop the ball from a pre-determined height, and videotape how high the ball bounced so we could watch the video as many times as we needed to to get an accurate measurement. We'd perform 3 trials per surface. At first, I thought we'd use a stick or something, so Logan could hold the ball at the top of the stick and drop it from there every time. Logan is running all over the house, measuring items to see if they're up to his armpit. No idea why. I kept saying, "This is supposed to be SCIENTIFIC, Logan! It has to be the exact same, every time!"
Eventually we decided he would just hold the ball at thirty-six inches each time and drop it from there.

Of course, the younger boy, Austin, wanted to help.
This is where it goes downhill. And the best part: it's all on video.
We started with the wood floor.
I had Austin hold the tape measure while Logan held the ball and dropped it.
Me: "Logan, hold your hand at thirty-six inches. Right where that black arrow is. Up a little. Down a little. Perfect. Now drop it."
Austin: "Now can I have a turn?"
Logan: "No. It's my project. Did you get it, Mom?"
Me: "I got it. Do it again. Austin, you can have a turn in a minute."
Logan: "I know. I get two turns and Austin gets one."
Me: "Okay. That's fine. But you need to go again."
Logan: "Okay. Where is thirty-six inches?"
Me: "Where the black arrow is. See it?"
Logan: "Yeah. Right here?"
Me: "Up a little. No, not that much. Perfect. Go."
Me: "Austin, you can't move the measuring tape."
Austin: "Is it my turn yet?"
Me: "No, we have to do another turn for Logan because you moved the measuring tape."
Austin: "But he went twice."
Me: "Hold up the measuring tape."
Austin: "Do I get a turn yet?"
Logan: "Where's the thirty-six inches?"
Me: "Down a little. No, up a little. Right there. Drop it."
Austin: "Now is it my turn?"
Me: "Yes. Now it's your turn. Logan, hold the measuring tape."
Logan: "Right here?"
So we got in our three trials and went on to the next surface: carpet.
I got a bit smarter on this one and found a way to make the measuring tape stand up on its own so no one had to hold it.
Logan: "Where is thirty-six inches?"
Me: "Where the black arrow is. See it?"
Logan: "Right here?"
Me: "Yes. Drop it."
Austin: "Why don't I get a turn? Is it my turn yet?"
Me: "You do get a turn. In a minute."
Austin: "But why does he get more turns than I do?"
Me: "Because it's his project."
Logan: "Yeah, Austin. It says in the paperwork that I have to do all the work. Or I get disqualified."
Me: "Logan, go again."
Logan: "Where is the thirty-six inches?"
Me: "Do you see the black arrow?"
Logan: "Right here?"
Me: "Yes. Drop it."
Eventually, we made our way outside to the grass. Here, I had to have the boys hold the measuring tape because there was no structure to lean it against.
Me: "Austin, bring the top of the measuring tape towards me a little."
<Austin falls.>
Me: "Get up and hold it up."
Austin: "Can I bounce it now?"
Me: "No. Logan's going to bounce it. You hold the tape measure. The bottom of the tape measure has to be touching the ground. No, not bending. Just barely touching. Here. Put your toe on it and then gently pull up. Keep your toe on it."
Austin: "This is hard. Can I bounce it now?"
Me: "Just hold the measuring tape. Logan, get ready."
Logan: "Where is the thirty-six?"
Me: "In the same place it has been this whole time. The black arrow. See it?"
Logan: "Right here?"
Me: "Yes. Drop it. Shoot. That bounced funny. We'll have to do it again."
Austin: "Now can I have a turn?"
Me: "Not yet. We have to bounce it again. Make sure the tape measure is touching the floor. Wait, now you're standing in front of the camera."
Logan: "Where's the thirty-six?"
Austin: "But I want a turn bouncing it."
We moved on to concrete next. I tried to stand the tape measure up along this pillar that's adjacent to our driveway, and it got lodged between the pillar and the gate. When I tried to pull it out, I broke it.
Logan: "Now we can't do my science fair project."
Me: "I'll fix it."
My husband, who is conveniently nearby although he has been unavailable up until this moment: "That's a worse offense than me getting dusty footprints on your clean floor."
(Yes, I had to Shark the floor before doing the science fair project since we'd be taking pictures of the floor.)
Me: "Duct tape."
Austin: "Is it my turn now?"
Me: "Logan hasn't even had a turn yet."
Austin: "Can't I go first?"
Me: "Sure. This one time."
Logan: "Why does he get to go first?"
Me: "Just let him go and get it over with."
Logan: "Fine."
Austin: "Where do I hold it, again?"
Me: "At the thirty-six. Right here. And, go."
Austin: "Can I have another turn now?"
Me: "No, it's Logan's turn. Grab the ball, Logan."
Logan: "Where's the thirty-six?"
Me: "Same place it has been."
Logan: "Right here?"
Me: "No."
Logan: "Right here?"
Me: "No."
Logan: "Right here?"
Me: "Yep. Drop it. Austin! You're blocking the camera."
Austin: "Can I have a turn?"
Me: "In a minute."
Logan: "Can I drop it now?"
Me: "Please do."
Logan: "Where is thirty-six?"
Me: "Find it."
Logan: "Here?"
Me: "Yes. Drop it."
<He drops it. The ball hits his knee, which, for some reason, he has bent so it sticks out exactly below the ball.>
Me: "Why did you put your knee under the ball?"
Logan: "I don't know. I quit. I'm not doing this stupid project."
<Marches inside.>
Me: "Come back. We're almost done."
Austin: "I'll do it. It's my turn, anyway."
Logan: "No it's not. It's my turn. Give me the ball."
Me: "Let Austin have a turn."
<Austin takes a turn.>
Logan: "My turn. Where's the thirty-six?"
Me: "Right there, Logan."
<Logan drops ball and snatches it up before it even has a chance to bounce.>
Me: "Why did you catch it? You have to let it bounce."
Logan: "I don't know."
Me: "Go again."
Logan: "Where's the thirty-six?"
Me: "Find it. Go again."
Logan: "Fine."
<Drops the ball. Catches it again, mid-bounce.>
Me: "Argh! Logan! Don't catch it! Let it bounce!"
Logan: "That's it! I'm going inside!"
Me: "Logan. We have like four more bounces to do. Let's just get this over with."
Logan: "Fine."
<We finish all bounce tests.>
Me: "All right! We're done! I'll go ahead and have some wine, now. You guys go play."
Logan: "Aren't we going to upload the video and write down the bounce heights?"
Me: "Daddy's going to help you with that! We don't want him to feel left out!"

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