So, I've just barely figured out a way to trick my kids into doing their own homework while convincing them that I really am helping them like their teacher said, when those pesky PTA people go and mess the whole thing up. I am convinced that these are the same people that as children raised their hands at every question the teacher asked, even if they didn't know the answer, just so they could get the participation points. Now they're forcing their participating ways onto my family by convincing my children that they want to be involved in the mother of all extended homework projects, known as the Elementary School Science Fair.
They hooked my daughter first. She came home armed with half a plan and dreams of a first place "I'm a Better Scientist Than You Are" ribbon. She recently won the "design a bookmark" contest at school and I think the fame has gone to her head. She then proceeded to convince my son that his short life's ambition is to taste the glory of science fair victory, as well. I'm telling you - it was Adam and Eve all over again (except this time I can't kick them out and tell them that they're on their own with their big idea project). I thought that I could derail them by pointing out that it's 2009 - not 1983, and that means that no one actually gets to win anymore. The most they're getting out of this thing is a lousy Certificate of Participation and a mother that's slightly more grouchy than usual. Nope, they still want to do the stupid projects.
So, now I'm helping coordinate two, count 'em, two elementary science fair projects. I felt it only fair that I should get to help choose the subject matter, since I will end up doing at least 5o% of the work. I had two solid suggestions that were pretty rad, if I do say so myself.
1. "Peeps: What the Heck Are Those Things?" OK, tell me that that title didn't catch your attention and make you think "Yeah, what are those things?" Seriously, we could blow one up in the microwave, see if one freezes, see if one floats, leave one out on the counter for 6 weeks and see if it's still edible, even use one as a conductor of electricity (I thought we could try to make some kind of lamp out of it). The list is endless, really. In addition to this idea being really good science, my family has a joke that my dad actually died because he ate too many Peeps. I still laugh every time I see one of those little guys, which means I could at least derive a little dark pleasure from this experience.
2. "Poop: A Study in Gender Differences" This is an anthropological study really, and you can try it for yourself since it didn't make the cut. Just say the word "poop" to a male of any age and he will laugh. I have tested this with four of my nephews, a few of my brothers in law, my husband and my sons. It doesn't matter how old or young, saying the word "poop" is an easy way to amuse any boy. Girls, on the other hand, stop laughing around age 8. After that they just think it's gross. Of course, our findings would've been based on a randomized sample of random men, but I'm telling you, it's as concrete as XX and XY.
Unfortunately, it turns out my kids are not only curious about science, but they are also totally boring. My daughter chose a project about how sound travels through different "media" like water, air, plastic, and metal (or some such nonsense). My son's project will evaluate the soil benefits of worm castings, which my son explained to me are just "worm poop". And guess what happened next. Giggling pile of little boy all over my floor. Hypothesis proven. First prize ribbon to me.