Mabel stayed up until midnight tonight working on her science fair exhibit board, and it’s all-but-finished–she just has a couple of things left to glue on in class tomorrow. I think she must have shouted “I HATE science fair” at least ten times this evening, and possibly torn out some of her hair, too. And now she’s done, and she’s thrilled and exultant. She told Dean and me, “Thank you SO MUCH for your help! I can’t complain about chores for at least a week, since you’ll remind me how much you helped me with this!” (I said, “But otherwise you could complain?”)
Isaac’s 5th and 6th grade science fair projects were very cool, but he wasn’t nearly as fastidious about how his display boards looked. I think Mabel’s looks like it could have been made by a high school senior.
Every year at science fair we see kids who clearly didn’t have as much parental help, and it always seems so unfair that they might have just as much aptitude for science, but for whatever reason, their parents couldn’t help them as much, so they can’t compete with the kids whose tormented-but-loving parents managed to find hours to help them. Dean is the designated science fair parent in our family (designated by me, which I think is reasonable since he’s the chemical engineer in the family) but this year for the display board we also called on some of the skills I’ve acquired in blogging, including finding and installing free fonts, and modifying images. It was fun that one of my favorite distractions turned out to be unexpectedly useful.
Another thing that’s unfair about science fair (science unfair?) is that the parental judging can be so subjective–or in other words, wrong. Dean’s told me before, “My colleagues–anyone who knows science–would never have chosen some of those winners.” But since it’s not exactly convenient to attend the district-level competition (the kids have to go to the next town over, spend the afternoon, come home for dinner, and then go back for a very long evening) I have mixed feelings about my kid’s project winning. At several points in the last weeks, we’ve thought Mabel’s project wouldn’t get good results and wouldn’t have a chance of winning, and I wasn’t sad about that. But in the end she got interesting results, and now that she’s put in so much work, and her board is so pretty, I have to admit that I think she’ll do well in the competition–and I want her to. But then I’ll be annoyed when we have to attend the district competition. I guess that’s what you call a win/win scenario, right? Or is it lose/lose? No–I guess it’s win/lose, lose/win.
[Here is where I would put some photos and descriptions of Mabel’s project, except for that I’ve already stayed up too late. Blogging is not unlike science (or any other pursuit) in that it takes longer than you think it will.]