Why I Hate the Science Fair

Okay…maybe that isn’t the most befitting title.  I don’t really hate the science fair–I hate what happens in our house during the science fair.  It is hands-down the most unpleasant time of the year in our house.

It starts in January.  The boys attend after-school meetings or workshops designed to help them  with their project.  While I am sure they learn some important information, in none of those meetings do they actually seem to get guidance with their individual projects.  This means it must all happen at home.

Now, my boys love science–and my husband and I love science.  But when it comes down to putting all the pieces together and making sure the parents don’t do too much of the project, it gets complicated.  The boys never really seem to understand what is expected from them, and Eric and I certainly don’t know, except from what we read in the science fair packet.  Narrowing down a topic is tricky as well.  My eldest child will pick a topic and WILL NOT BUDGE.  We may try to offer some variations, or suggestions to make it more straightforward, but he is not having it.  My younger son, on the other hand, picks a topic, then changes it, then changes it again, then adds ten things to it, so on and so forth.  He wants to try it all.

We swore after last year the boys would decide their topics right away and space out the work throughout the month.  This…sorta happened.  We try to help, we order and cajole the boys to work because “we aren’t doing this for you”.  We try to get them to do a little bit at a time so as not to have the meltdown of last year.  This…sorta happened.

In the meantime, we are planning and executing both boys’ birthday parties.  We have sleepover parties.  We have tired boys.  We have new games and toys that want to be played with.  We have a February 26 deadline.  We have tears.  We have pouting.  We have stomping. We have parents tearing what little hair they have left from their heads.  We have parents raising their voices, threatening lost computer privileges.  We have negotiations.  We have many promises made, some promises kept.  We have whining.  We have boys with terrible colds.

Noses are blown.  Reminders are given to cough into elbows.  Boys wander away, boys are corralled and returned to the work site.  Nobody is happy.  Everyone is exhausted.  We hope this doesn’t destroy any and all love of science.

Finally, at long last, after much trial and tribulation, the boards are made, the reports are written, and the notes are prepared. Next Tuesday, we will go to the sweaty elementary school gymnasium and wait for 2 hours or so for the judges to makes their decisions, ribbons will be awarded and it will all be over for another year.  We will wonder if they will want to do it again next year.  They will.  They always do.  Sigh.

Who is with me?  Do any other parents experience the Science Fair Meltdown?

Science fair exhibit (butterflies), probably t...

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