Sunday, February 23, 2014


If you’ve ever had the privilege of listening to a teacher for any amount of time, you’ll realize that we tend to complain about things. A lot. For long periods of time. Some are legitimate (we shouldn’t have to build library shelves after school), while others are just made up whining (can we make Clay stop making those goat sounds during the meeting?). In my defense, goats make soothing, relaxing sounds that help others concentrate better. But there is one thing that a teacher will complain about and has every right to do so. SCIENCE FAIR PROJECTS. These things are killing me.

I am a vocal science advocate. If I had a dime every time Monica rolled her eyes while I was explaining why something is a load of crap because science has already disproved that, I’d buy her dark glasses so I didn’t have to see the eye-rolling. I’m usually yelling at the TV or my computer, so I don't always get to see the eye-rolling. But I know it's there. I love science because it gives us a way to test ideas and see if they are true or untrue. So, why do I hate the science fair?

Oobleck. This was pretty cool.
The process of making a science fair project is not a pretty sight. The process includes name calling, screaming, yelling, crying, yelling, and shameful behavior by all parties involved. This begins when we have to choose which project each student wants to choose. Since we live in a place where there is no Wal-mart, materials are hard to find here. So, many really cool projects have to be shot down by me because of the lack of resources and materials. This is the first stage of the yelling and name calling. I try to calmly tell them that we can’t do it because we don’t have liquid zinc and dioxicide carbonate powder. They irrationally let me know that they don’t care, they want to blow up a watermelon. 

Crazy River pouring his vineger.
Once they have been coerced into a particular project, they have to preform the experiment, record data, and explain what is happening to the rest of the class. This is the fun part for the all of the kids. The ones preforming the experiment love doing that part and the rest of the class gets a kick out of seeing what happens. Then all hell breaks loose again when we have to begin to prepare “The Board”. 

“The Board” is a three foot tri-fold board. The little scientists now have to prepare it by typing all of their procedures, materials, hypothesis, and conclusion. They then glue it on the decorated board along with pictures of them preforming the experiment. This sounds like a fairly mundane activity, until they start. First off, they have to type their data on the computer. You know, so people can actually read what they’re trying to communicate. I would assume that teaching a 3rd grader how to type is similar to teaching a 3rd grader how to fly an airplane. This is where the teacher begins to unravel. I am walking around the classroom as my kids are on the seven computers. I then began to shout letters for the next hour. “P!! It’s a P!!!!! No!!! A P!!! No!!! No!!! A P!!! Not an A for God’s sake! A P!! It’s a P, as in ‘Please find the P key’.  A frickin' P!!!!!”  This goes on for an hour a day for about 4 days, until they get their project all typed out. 
We did find raisins and Sprite.

We still haven’t had our fair yet, but that is the another fun part for the kids. Their teacher tends to calm down a bit and enjoy what the kids have done. I’m always impressed with effort and results when it is all said and done. The kids love it and will talk about it until we go through this next year.