Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

The Science Fair
Jennifer Flaten

My son needs a science experiment to enter in his school’s science fair. I suggested testing various cookies to determine which cookie takes the longest to get soggy when dunked. He wasn’t amused.

I am not a fan of science fairs. Don’t get me wrong I like science, when it isn’t creating killer robots and/or zombies intent on taking over the world, I just don’t have the attention span necessary to complete a long-term experiment.

I also don’t like to spend money or have a large mess. Both of these things are necessary to do an excellent experiment.

Thanks to certain TV shows, my son has an unrealistic idea of what a science experiment should look like-give you a hint it involves lots of dangerous chemicals, dry ice and big bangs.

Even without access to lab grade chemicals, I could probably make lots of big bangs, or at least a good amount of smoke, but since I turned down the Mad Scientist rider on my homeowner’s policy we will have to stick with easy science like making rock candy.

Food is always golden at the science fair. Last year the busiest exhibits all involved food. One kid’s experiment involved popcorn, so the whole exhibit hall or cafeteria smelled like popcorn. His booth had a constant stream of visitors. I don’t think anyone cared what his experiment discovered or didn’t discover; they were just starving. The science fair is always around suppertime.

Another girl’s experiment used gummi bears, which she handed out to anyone who visited her booth. Gummi bear girl’s booth was constantly busy. I think she went through a fifty-pound sack of gummi bears.

I think my kids, including my traitorous son who left me to handle the booth while he went off to pilfer some gummi bears, ate about 25 of those 50 pounds. You just can’t compete with gummi bears.

Last year we did an experiment testing if seedlings required gravity to grow. While the experiment itself was interesting, it didn’t make a very dynamic presentation. Oh look honey, a tiny little seedling sitting there growing; ohah.

You can’t even turn that into a time-lapse video. We tried. No amount of Photoshop can make radish seedlings glamorous. So, no sexy power point complete with music and animation for us. There were no tasty snacks, no laser light show. The only reason we got any traffic at our booth is it was on the way to the gummi bear booth.

Nope all we had was the basic tri-fold storyboard with blurry pictures of the seedlings. Hey, I supervised my son, but the work was all his-hence the rather low-tech presentation. You know me well enough by now to know I am not the type of parent who build their kids tiny little dancing robots for their science experiment.

Since we can’t do his first choice-things that go boom-my son wisely decided that this year’s experiment involve food. While I am sad, he turned down my cookie idea-I will continue my research without him-I think we can come up with something.

Maybe we could blow up some gummi bears. That would certainly make my son happy. Oh how about robot gummi bears? Even better some sort of drone gummi bear? We could sell it to military for millions.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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