It’s science fair time at my daughters’ school. Science rules. Science Rocks. Science fairs are the quintessential science education experience. When I heard this yesterday evening, I was pumped, ready to spring into action and make…whoops, I mean, guide, my third-grader in her science fair project. I had it already picked and designed in my head. We talked it over and agreed to make several demonstrations on electricity, creating our own electric dynamo and powering it in various ways. As a side project or maybe, after a bit of research, we’d do a solar power project and maybe something fun like a potato battery. In two minutes I had about twenty books held on reserve for her to read and glean from. Then the stunning news.
My wife burst both our bubbles when she told us that parents had complained about all the work they’d gone through in previous science fairs. It seemed that parents do all the work on these projects while their kids plug into TV. Can you believe that? So, now, it’s a group project where the kids get placed in groups, select a project from a pre-qualified list and then work together. Ugh! How am I supposed to engineer some high tech learning and bonding time with my girl that will dazzle the judges and get her a scholarship to UW-Madison? I got dem science fair blues.
Personally, I work in a fantastic team at my place of employment, for the present. It isn’t always that way. I’ve been on teams with total slackers and been stuck with all the work. In my classes, I’ve seen student teams nearly torpedoed by one or two slackers. Without controls and penalties, along with the rewards, I’ve never seem teams work well. Even families are failing as teams in these science fairs, unable to get their kids to do their share of the work and learning. Epic failure.
Well, our science books will be waiting for me at the library by Saturday morning. Me and my third-grader will just have to learn how to power the future by ourselves. Our science fair demo will be for just us, with maybe a video posted on youtube for the family. My daughter will be as pumped as I am about exploring the world of nature and science power, and we’ll have a really good time.