Saturday, January 28, 2012

What If They Had a Science Fair and Nobody Came?

Shortly after the Christmas holidays, information started coming home from school about the annual Science Fair. The damn Science Fair! Words that clench my stomach and turn my dreams to nightmares. Other parents tell me their kids actually have fun doing their science project and look forward to it. They enjoy spending time thinking about what kind of project they'll do and planning their experiments. Not my kid. Unfortunately, Jack has zero interest in science, science projects and the annual Science Fair. He's not a science kid--aside from computer science--so getting him to do a project for the Science Fair is about as much fun as trying to give a cat a bath.

His school requires all 4th, 5th and 6th graders to participate in the Science Fair every spring. In 4th grade, he and Charlie investigated the freezing times of different substances (water, apple juice, root beer). The biggest revelation of that project was the discovery of root beer slushies. Yum!

Last year I tried to make it interesting by choosing a video game-related subject: "Do Boys and Girls Like the Same Video Games?" He still had very little interest in participating, so I pretty much did most of the work myself.

This year Charlie initially said he would do the science project, but after perusing the first few pages of the 34-page 6th Grade Science Fair Student Handbook for 2012, he decided enough was enough. What's the point of attempting to complete a project that's only going to stress out everybody in the family? What kind of lesson does that teach to anybody? If we as adults were overwhelmed by the whole thing, how does our child feel? We decided we just weren't gonna do it this year. Hell no, we won't go!

After going back and forth with the school, we've come to a compromise. The 504 agreement we set up in August determined that his homework is limited to 20-30 minutes a day maximum, due to his disability. For this reason, the majority of his science project will be done in class, supervised by his teacher (bless her heart!). She's modified the project to suit his interests. He's doing a study of the ergonomics of playing video games: whether you make better scores in different playing positions (sitting in a chair vs. lying on the floor).

Whew! What a relief! I feel like a weight has been lifted off the whole family. Am I alone in this? Surely there must be other parents out there who feel as we do that the whole Science Fair thing is out of control. It's just too much.

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