The Science-is-not Fair

Whoever named the annual gathering of project boards advertising uninspired experiments a Science “Fair” must not have gotten out much. There is absolutely nothing festive about getting together a Science Fair project – particularly when you are the parent, not the student. This is definitely one of those homework assignments that can rip families apart. Before I taught Gifted and Talented students, I was a 5th grade Science teacher.  After 3 years of Science Fairs, I realized that the only people who seemed to learn anything from these events were the parents – and the primary topic they learned was the number of cuss words that are applicable to lengthy mandatory projects assigned to students to complete at home.

Of course, it is only karma that, years later, my own daughter should bring home a Science Fair packet accompanied by her own surly attitude.  I did my best to disguise my loathing for such projects, but her eye-rolling ensued before we could even start brainstorming possible topics.  I tried my “go to” teacherly advice, which is to find a way to make it relevant, and suggested that she somehow incorporate her love of all products Bath and Bodyworks into her experiment.  This resulted in more eye-rolling, but I allowed it to percolate for a few days.  When the deadline for a topic loomed, Dimples finally decided that my idea was, indeed, usable, if not an excellent one.  She chose to investigate the use of hand sanitizer in the prevention of bread mold.

Every other day, Dimples diligently (with my nagging) took pictures of her three pieces of bread – one in a ziploc bag, one exposed and treated with hand sanitizer, and one control.  After two weeks, the only thing that had happened was the two outside the plastic had gotten hard as a rock.  Since then – and it has been 36 days – there has been absolutely no change, including zero mold growth.

My conclusion from this experiment is that, from now on, upon purchasing a new bag of bread, I will immediately remove it from its manufacturer’s bag (which apparently promotes mold growth at the record speed of three days) and dispense the pieces of bread throughout the household to be collected whenever it is time to make a sandwich.  They might collect a bit of dust, but at least they will be mold-free.  And, although I like my bread to smell nice, I will probably not be adding drops of hand sanitizer to each slice because I think that mustard might taste a tad better.

If I had to do my own project board on this whole experience, here is how it would look:

Topic:  What is the Fastest Way to Drive a Parent Crazy?

Hypothesis:  If a teacher assigns my daughter a Science Fair Project and I attempt to help her complete it because she has no idea what to do, then I will end up in a rubber room within 24 hours of her having completed the project.

Materials:  A mandatory Science Fair project, a 9 year old daughter, a frenzied mother who once taught science, a supportive but inexperienced father

Procedure: 1.  Teacher assigns project.  2.  Daughter says she does not understand what to do.  3.  Mother tries to help with project.  4.  Daughter says mother does not know what the heck she is doing.  5.  Mother says, “Fine.  Do it yourself.”  6.  Daughter wails.  7.  Mother caves, and helps, attempting to be cheerful while sullen daughter deftly pushes mother to the brink of insanity.

Results:  Project gets completed, and mother is checked into an institution.

Conclusion:  My hypothesis was correct, as supported by the data, and the fact that I am currently typing this on a rubber keyboard at the Home for Mothers Driven Insane by Their Children.

Probably the most unexciting Science Fair project results EVER.


Posted on April 29, 2012, in Children, Dimples, Family, Humor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. i love this post. fabulous. and spot ON. we just finished a freaking volcano and in the end i had to assign my husband to be the Parent In Charge because i was Going Crazy. multiply what you just did times four and you will have an idea of why i am pretty nuts.

  2. You’re so scienatiferic!

  3. Ok, I can SO relate! My daughter did hers last year on fruit flies. We left tasty bananas bits all over the house to see which one would attract flies first. The results: Nada. Nothing. Zip. No fruit flies. The scourge of the kitchen decided to be a no-show.

    This year she was doing goosebumps. Two days before the fair we pulled her out – long story – but good grief, was I relieved!!

    • Too bad you couldn’t come here for the fruit flies. We get them all of the time. Although they would probably mysteriously vanish if we actually wanted them to be around.

  4. Mine had to do with food coloring being absorbed into different liquids and how long that took. I can’t tell which one is the least exciting.

  5. LOL!!! We rorared reading this one! We have been through this with our kids and oh my gosh…. I have to say those rubber rooms can be fun and the food is not bad either! LOL… One question.. Wonderbutt didnt find those pieces of bread and eat them? LOL

    Great post!
    the collies and their crazy dad.. chuck 🙂

  6. Sitting in a lounge at Auckland airport nearly pee-ing myself with laughter while others look at me wondering at my mirth… 🙂


  8. Hahahahahaha! I hope you enjoying your stay at the “Home for Mothers Driven Insane by Their Children”. I imagine is is quite crowded there but I am sure you all have lots of experiences to chat about during your therapy sessions. With good behaviour you might be allowed to stay there! 🙂

  9. The dreaded Science Fair. We will be right there with you next year! Hilarious post!

  10. Can I just say that is one of the downfalls of having both of your kids in a science and technology school? Science fair project every year! My son has had to do one since first grade, but they’ve since changed it to second grade so my daughter will start next year. I am so over it.

    And never, do not ever, do one on counting taste buds for crying out loud. I could hardly count them, much less my kid. Though I will say that is a pretty cool project, once you can get over the fact that your kid’s teacher lost his project planner a week before it was all due. Oh, yes, I hate science fair!

    • I giggle hysterically at the thought of having to do one every year. Is it bad if I do not encourage my daughter to have an interest in science? The weird thing is that I used to love it!

  11. This seems like an apropo moment for Wonderbutt to stumble upon the experiment… Suddenly, “The dog ate my science project” excuse is totally legit!
    What are the visiting hours at the sanitarium? And can I bring you anything? 😉

  12. Howl! We love this (the blog post not the experiment) even though you are now in an institution because of it. We are not scientists but that is a terrible science experiment. At least when our human sisters were doing science experiments they got to see something erupt in a glass jar. We hope you get out of the institution soon.

    Bella and DiDi

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