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...

2nd Inaugural Post

Can you really have a 2nd inaugural?  I suppose the President will have a second inauguration, so I can have a 2nd inaugural blog post.

Along with thousands of others, I decided to write a blog.  I was hesitant about the whole blogging thing–is it self-serving? self-aggrandizing?  is it supposed to be?  should I be an expert at something to deserve a blog?

I do love to read others’ blogs, so while the answer may be yes to all of those questions, here I am.

The fact is, I am not an expert at anything, really.  What I wanted was a place to bounce ideas off others, to share things I’m trying, and to opine about things that matter to me, and hopefully to others as well.

I live in Montana.  Never in a thousand years (yes–I do love my hyperbole) did I ever imagine I would live anywhere other than West Michigan.  I wanted to live in West Michigan–I loved it there.  However, true love called and now I am living in a small town with Glacier National Park in my backyard.  I am a cat person, but I now am mother to a gigantic, crazy Newfoundland puppy.  I have two boys who often confound me with their humor and manner of play, as I grew up with all girls.  I have a vegetable garden.  I knit.  I’ve started cooking.  I hike.  I’ve shot a gun.   I am 2000 miles (give or take–not hyperbole) from all of my extended family members.  I attended the University of Michigan and live in an area where my chosen party loses nearly every election in our county.  The only thing that turned out somewhat as I’d planned was my career.  I am a high school social studies teacher (with a bit of English thrown in).  This is all amusing to me, because I am a planner.  I had it all mapped out, but as Burns once wrote “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”.

That said, I would change nothing (except maybe to shed these last 10 stubborn pounds).  I would live nowhere else.  Don’t get me wrong–I’d still like to retire someplace warm, like South Carolina, but some how, some way, this short West Michigan girl ended up exactly where she needs to be.

What about you?  Have any of your carefully laid life plans “gang aft agley”?

Columbia Mountain