How to Survive the “Science Fair”

Have you survived your first science fair as a parent yet?

This may sound like a helpful post but really, be forewarned, there is no actual help here to be had, only tears, yelling and frustration. No, this my fellow weary, exhausted parents is a piece of commiseration because all one can really hope for is to survive war the science fair.

I haven’t participated in a science fair since my own over 20 years ago, scratch that, I’ve been out of high school for almost 25 years so it’s been a.very.long.time.ago. Absurdly, I remembered it fondly as I did the spelling bee and all the academic special occasions that I seemed to flourish in during my youth. Well, either I’ve gotten dumber, the work has gotten harder or life is just so much easier when your parents are the ones worrying and you are the one just doing it. Ahhh, to be a kid again.

Anyways, this year is my oldest daughter’s first “mandatory” science fair and like all firsts it was a complete bumbled “learning process”. That’s mom code for a complete muck up. I’ve been urging her to sign up since she was in 2nd grade but she didn’t want to. Now, I understand why. It’s hard. Aside from trying to find a suitable, age appropriate experiment that appears that your child could have actually did it on their own, and the implementing of science and then design elements, it’s nearly a full-time job for me my kid!

I’m not going to lie to you. I helped. A LOT! Our girl saw an episode of Myth Busters wherein the hosts mixed Mentos and Diet Coke and she decided that she wanted to do the same. We’re big fans of Myth Busters and she’s apparently a big fan of making things go boom. This worries me a bit. Anyways, we decided to do our own Mentos Explosion experiment and it was AWESOME.

I figured it would be easy. Mentos and Coke, very cost effective. Only I hadn’t wagered into the cost, a geyser tube, 6 bottles of Diet Coke, as many packs of Mentos, science fair board, border trim, printed photos, aggravation with graphs and hot glue gun burns. And I never anticipated the human error tears (hers) when the Coke fell sideways or the Mentos didn’t drop. Oh we paid. We all paid and I’m not just referring to the $40 at the damn art store.

You know the saying it takes a village to raise a child? Well, it’s not bullshit because it takes an entire family to do one science fair project. One to hold the GoPro and take video, one to shoot photos on the DSLR, one to set the experiment up and the child doing the science project to actually perform the experiment.

You think the science fair is going to be your 3rd grader filling balloons with vinegar fumes or conducting electricity via potatoes. You , ma’am would be wrong! You think you are an innocent bystander but I’m here to tell you that the science fair is an equal opportunity destroyer and you will be collateral damage.

So next time, don’t wonder why your 2nd grader didn’t volunteer to enter the science fair, just stay quiet and be glad that you have two years left to enjoy your sanity and that beautiful burn free body you have now because in a couple years, it’s be all burnt eyebrows, singed arm hair and tears. Lots and lots of tears and nobody needs to see their parents cry that much!

What’s your “fondest” science fair project memory?

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