I was so happy when Oldest One finished her science project in eighth grade. One done with the dreaded science project! My hopes were dashed her freshman year of high school when I found out our school required a science project through twelfth grade.
I know that science projects have merit, and kids do learn from them. But I have yet to see one that doesn’t require some sort of parental involvement, even if it is just running around town frantically buying needed items to finish it in the next 24 hours. This year doesn’t look any different.
I walked into the house after work to find Oldest One unhappily glaring at the computer because she couldn’t find a project she liked. She decided not to work with a group this year, but to do it on her own, and she wanted something exciting and big. I told her I didn’t see how she had time for a project like that, and maybe a scaled back one would be better. That was shot down. I had sent her, at her request, several websites with science projects for twelfth graders that had some (to me) cool looking projects that weren’t going to take the next two years. She didn’t like any of them. She left for cheer with no project.
Little One had wanted to do a science project determining what kind of food a bunny liked better, using from homemade to bought organic to bought bagged bunny food. Her teacher said that was too easy, and instead assigned Little One’s group of three the science project of seeing which paper towel was the strongest. What? For eighth graders? Apparently the teacher hasn’t seen what happens when food doesn’t agree with a bunny, and the bunny doesn’t quite make it to its litter box. Not pretty. I decided to let this go, buy every brand of paper towel there is, get some rocks from the yard, and let them have at it.
Last year Little One and her group did a maze and determined which animal, a dog, a cat or a chicken made it through with the best time. I had two kids and a chicken spend the night for that one. Husband helped with the maze to make sure it was sturdy, and I downloaded the pictures (and offered the visiting chicken some food). That was a fun one to watch; three seventh grade girls trying to herd a dog, a cat and a chicken through a maze several times.
Oldest One, with me sitting at the table for support (because the projects she was looking at were beyond this administrative non-science person), finally decided on two projects she would discuss with her teacher at 10:30p last night. She had realized that she didn’t have several months, and wasn’t trying to win a scholarship for her project. I admire she wanted to do something exciting, with anatomy or neurology or cancer (and Husband and I said no to doing anything with mice and cancer cells), but it wasn’t practical. She told me this morning she would be doing an experiment about blood coagulation. I even think I can help her, by ordering the materials she needs, and cleaning up after her.
Only four more years of science projects to go after this one. Well, if Oldest One does research in college, great, I’ll just hear about it, not have to live through it. This will not be one of the things I look back on sadly when it is over.