It only APPEARS that Sara is holding a snake, when in fact, she is holding a legless lizard. And clearly making a funny face which would indicate she is hiding candy in her cheek. You simply can’t fool The Momma. I took this picture only moments after she pet the boa constrictor, which is NOT a legless lizard, and I now know the difference because last night was the final culmination of our Science Fair Week. AHH!!! I LOVE SCIENCE FAIR!!
Why do I love Science Fair week? Is it because I am a card-carrying member of Nerds Anonymous? Why, yes…partly. And partly because our school turns upside down in the celebration of science, which is JUST SO AWESOME. I love watching the 3 year olds proudly stand by their explanations of lunar cycles, and rows of carnations turning bright colors. By Kindergarten, the kids are exploring why bubbles pop and how tornadoes are formed. It’s Dealer’s Choice, so we never know what we’ll learn at the Science Fair.
With that many students blowing things up, the building turns into Tri-Fold City. There isn’t a spare horizontal space in sight. The kids present to their individual classes before presenting to the school population at large. Kelly was a little worked up with excitement while presenting to our Science Coordinator, after having earned her Scientist Badge. Not to mention a few feet away was a full sized boa constrictor, so very NOT in a cage.
I was asked to be a Middle School Science Fair Judge this year, so by the finale of the All-School Share Fair, I was feeling quite joyful. ”Hey, would you like to spend a day talking about science with kids who may want to become scientists?” UM….YES! I wanted to hug each and every Middle School student and tell them I was overflowing with pride for how hard they worked. Their project work begins in August, and must be presented with a board, along with full binders of reports, raw data, relevant research, and journal entries. Really neat stuff, if science is your bag, baby.
But the finale awaited us: Family Science Night, which I call “The Big Bang Carnival”. Our 8th grade students turn our 2-part cafeteria into a gigantic interactive science lab. They pair into teams and create experiments for the students. IT’S A GOOP-FEST! It’s messy and smelly and hands-on, and just downright delicious. No kid misses a station, and who would when you collect an electron at each experiment, which are glued into a valance structure orbiting a nucleus? Oh yeah…you’re thinking it, so I’ll just say it…it’s a Nerd Carnival. The very best kind.
What does a Mother look like, walking around the Big Bang Carnival? My hands were oily from holding the lava lamps each girl made, and I tried to balance the valance sheets under my arms, while carrying the wipes for the Oobleck station and bags from the “make your own silly putty” station. I held their candy fish from the “How lunar cycles affect tides” station while they dropped a basketball underneath a camera after predicting the speed of gravity. You got prizes based on a percentage of how close you were to the famous 9.8. Kelly won Scientific Equipment Bingo. Bonus! I’d like to say the milk solids they created made it all the way home, but it got lost somewhere between using candy to illustrate molecular weight and the awards ceremony.
I thought both girls were very brave at the “Does Smell Affect Your Taste” station, but Kelly was quite clear with our enthusiastic 8th graders: I am not eating that onion. I don’t know if they had many takers, but I applaud the experiment.
Look, I’m a realist. I know we live in a world where it’s OK for your kid to be great at sports, but it’s hush-hush if they enjoy a good discussion on scientific methods. I know I’ve put us in a bubble with like-minded folks who applaud the “I’m Proud To Be A Scientist” button on my kids’ shirts. But you know what? I’m staying here. I grew up outside of this bubble, and I know what can happen to budding thinkers in less tolerant settings. I know the wonderful things that can happen when they are grouped together, and allowed to be themselves. And I know better than to send my daughters to the Big Bang Carnival in their best dresses. No matter…non-Newtonian substances rarely stain.
Hug a little scientist today. Someday he might become an inventor who [insert super cool patent-able idea I judged in Middle School but won't share here for fear someone would steal the most awesome culinary invention I've read about this year....]