Elle’s science fair project is due tomorrow. In our school district, and maybe in others, it is a mandatory project that all students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades must complete in order to receive a half decent grade in science class. Science fair projects are designed to elevate our children’s problem-solving skills to a whole new level completely in which experimental thinking, applications, and fact-based conclusions reign supreme.
This is our second year doing a science fair project. Last year, when Elle was in the 2nd grade, she completed one simply because she wanted to. She entered her project into the fair and walked away with a participation ribbon. And that’s okay. Nobody in my family, save for Elle’s dad, is a scientist. (Seriously, he IS a scientist. An unemployed one, but still a scientist. With a master’s degree in physics. He totally wins in this category.) Unfortunately, he’s not in the picture which, therefore, leaves Elle stuck with a complete science-tard.
But this year there’s the whole mandatory issue at hand. The pressure is stamped on these kids like it’s a life or death situation (wait until FCAT season rolls around…aye, aye, aye!). Elle really went into this year’s project with a healthy and happy Gung-Ho! attitude and I was all for it. We both got our hands dirty with this year’s project choice – BOTANY – as Elle had tasked herself with raising scallions based on how much space each group of seeds was given to germinate. After 4 weeks, the results were in. Now came the easy part: putting together the display and writing the report (mostly her job).
Except everything started to go wrong!
- I couldn’t get off of Facebook early enough last night in order to start typing up Elle’s progress sheets (but that’s totally my fault, I know).
- I’m not used to this new MS Word – it took me a good 15 minutes to find the “page layout” option.
- Ack! Do I save the document as a .doc or as a .docx? Oh, god. And what about Excel? .xls? .xlsx? .xlxlxlxlxl???!! What????
- Oh, yeah. There’s no printer attached to my laptop. Solution: EMAIL ATTACHMENT.
- Go to desktop and hit PRINT! Um…PRINT?!! Why isn’t this thing printing? PRINT PRINT PRINT PRINT PRINT. Nuthin’.
- CONTROL PANEL!! *click* PRINTERS AND FAXES! *click* – nuthin’.
- Whoa. This is all way beyond my brain capacity. So I started to cry.
- DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT!
We finally got the printer to work. Sadly, it wouldn’t print in color (I don’t know why – it IS a color printer and it had PLENTY of color ink!) but that was the least of our problems. The point is, the printer was finally working. Exhale.
After all of the progress sheets and the data charts and the not-as-pretty-as-color black and white photographs were printed and placed onto Elle’s backboard, it was time for Elle to write up her experiment summary.
By hand. Teacher’s rules.
There was much frustration here, as Elle often becomes aggravated by the fact that she is human and imperfect and simply makes mistakes. And when she makes mistakes it reminds her of how human and imperfect she is and this, consequently, ushers her into making even more mistakes. Then she just flat out gets pissed off.
I convinced her to walk away from her report and come with me to the store so we could buy some dry strip White-Out. When we came back home, she was in much better spirits and finished her handwriting project with few mistakes. But this mistake took the cake. It’s my absolute favorite (obviously, I mean I actually took a picture of it!):
Would the absence of mandatory SCIENCE projects and long-term affect of mandatory WRITING and READING projects increase the literacy rate of high school graduates and actually teach students how to spell simple words, grasp basic comprehension skills, and stop writing in textual shorthand? LMAO! WTF? Now there’s a thought…
How many mandatory science fair projects does one student’s mother have to endure before she actually loses her shit?
These are just ideas, nothing is set in stone. We’ve still got an entire year for the next one but it doesn’t hurt to get an early start.