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.)