The Return of the Science Fair

The other day I got a text that said, “2:00.  Today.” I assumed, as usual, that it was a coded message, and one of my people was in distress.  (Does everyone do that? Believe that any slightly unusual text is being sent from a hostage situation?) It turned out to be an invitation to the science fair, which I attended. It brought to mind this problem with our world, which is that you don’t get to participate in science fairs after a certain age.

If you liked high school English, you can be in a book club.  If you liked math, you can sit home drinking alone and do pre-calculus problems on the internet.  (Oh, is that just me again?  Why did I even have to say "pre" calculus?  Shouldn't I have pretended I was farther along at least?)  Coffee houses across the land have amateur poetry readings.  But there’s no forum for the amateur scientist.

 There are sweet details in the science fair abstract that never appear in professional science.  Like, “I come from a large family, and we drink lots of milk.  So I decided to study milk for my project.”

 And the methods are super sketchy in a charming way.   One project involved determining whether a small detention pond could generate hydroelectric power.  The methods involved, “Each night at 6 pm I looked through the chain link fence with binoculars to see what the water level was.  One night I couldn't do that due to technical problems.”  (I'm still wondering what possible technical problems could occur with that scenario.  Fog on the lens?)  Do you see what I mean?

 There’s also that factor of labeling a person, “the subject” when you know it’s just their little sister, who will pretty much do anything to hang out with the big kids.  Even if it means being “the subject” of an experiment.

But I learned a lot.  For example, if you’re trying to improve your memory and have the choice to chew on a rubber band, peppermint gum, or fruit gum, pick fruit gum.

Anyway, here’s the deal. We’re about to have a science fair right here.  Don’t you have some questions that only science can answer?  About how things grow, or the affect of one thing on another?  I hope you’ll participate. I promise to post all of your projects.   (I hope this isn’t just me again.)

Comments

  1. Hmm...sorry, I took the business courses in high school. Science never got past the diagrams of tadpoles stage lol.

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  2. I'm taking slow and steady steps toward giving my seventeen year old daughter who has seizures some medical marijuana to see if it helps her. I don't know why this is so difficult to do given I live in California, and we've tried nearly twenty very vicious drugs to no avail so far. My experiment will be if we try the cannabis and it works, will I want to jump for joy or kill myself that I didn't try it earlier?

    Thank you for allowing me to post some gallows humor here. I just love your blog.

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    1. Oh, that sounds so hard. But yes, perfect for an experiment. Always pick jumping for joy when giving a choice. I hope it works!

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  3. I am going to have to ponder this.
    I think my husband would like it if I did a project which involved what results I might get from having more frequent sex. With him, of course. But would he be the subject or me or, perhaps, the marriage? See, this is why I never won more than a third place at the Science Fair.

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    1. That sounds like some important research, Ms. Moon. I think you need a hypothesis first, and then you two can work out the study design.

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  4. You wrote "But there’s no forum for the amateur scientist."
    I would say you are not geeky or science'y enough or you would have searched for Science Clubs using a new tool called Google.

    http://geeks-nerds.meetup.com/cities/us/wa/seattle/

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    1. That's so not the same as a science fair. Those people are, and I quote from your website, going to "Movies, concerts, comedy clubs, comedy improve, boardgames, arcades, bowling, poker, go-karts, etc" I see nothing about a tri-fold presentation board. Geeks seems to be synonymous for "living in my mom's basement playing video games" So, give in. Conduct an experiment. There's no downside.

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  5. Science was possibly my worst subject in school, right next to history/geography/math. In fact, I wasn't much good in anything but English. I couldn't even help my kids with their science projects ... I don't think you want me in your science fair :(

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    1. I so do want you in my science fair, Jennio! It's as easy as pie.

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  6. No forum for the amateur scientist????!!! Why do you think I sent you the link for mini jackhammers and fossils?
    I definitely see some sort of Science fair project here with a Sonicare toothbrush, dental tools and maybe some sort of dangerous acid. Don't forget the protective eye
    gear..

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    1. Oh dear. Madame Librarian, cleaning fossils for a Real Scientist doesn't quite have the folksy appeal of an actual science fair, right? I'm glad you'll be participating. You have til the 15th to design your experiment, as you know.

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  7. I was a big fan of pond water in Biology so I'm wondering about 'observing' various types of fluids. I could sit in the living room with jars of puddles from the chicken coop, lake water where the mallards hang out, those rainbow colored slicks under the car and spit. (Other suggestions carefully considered but people not too gross!).

    Then there's the consideration of 'naked eye' versus microscope to prove important things. Does spit jiggle? What happens to mallard-enhanced lake water after a week, a month, lid off, lid on?

    And I'd get to wear my bathrobe all day with the cats on my lap, Wait, I already do that.

    I'm here for you, Mr Nobel.

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    1. Yes! You're totally on the right track. Maybe something with a placenta? Nutritional value? Value as fertilizer? So many options. . .

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