Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Science Fair Jitters

Did any of you get instant butterflies in your stomach when the words "science fair" were spoken at school?  

Maybe some of you are science geniuses, or science really excites you, but science was never my favorite or best subject. 

So, our kids happen to attend a school where, starting in 5th grade, they participate in the science fair every year until graduation. 

My oldest kept hearing me say, "You'll need to do such and such on your poster.  You need to have a hypothesis and a process, etc.," and she kept saying, "Mom, I don't think this is going to be like your science fair.  I think you're WAY over-thinking it."

So, I let it go.  

It's a good thing I did.

This was NOTHING like our science fair.

It was supposed to be held out in this courtyard, but the rain forced all the grades into different rooms of the school.  All the experiments running all over the floors created quite a mess!

In the younger grades, they only had to demonstrate something "sciency."  There didn't need to be a hypothesis or a sense of proving anything.  

In high school, even if the teacher had wanted those things, so many didn't know what to do, so the types of experiments had a wide range of effort put into them.

These are some of the high schoolers in the cafeteria.

The high school experiments that exploded with loud noises or extremely big messes, were put outside under a covering.

The kids presented their projects to the principal a week before the science fair.  She is a biology major, and she would ask questions and see if they were prepared. 

On the day of the fair, officials from both the American consulate and the Japanese consulate came, and whichever they liked best was chosen as the winner.  

No scientist judges here.

Kylie's project involved bones, their density, and what happens when soaked in different substances.  She and her partner chose something pretty easy and made the presentation look really nice.

When we took Kylie's pictures to be developed for her board, it was quite a fun process to watch.

When the pictures came out of the printer, an older gentleman would dip them in a bucket of water.

Then he carried them over to a space heater to dry them.

And just for even more fun, how about this advertisement for their photo-taking abilities, hanging on the wall?  Check out the ashes hanging from his cigarette!!

And how about these guys?

This definitely makes me want to take my children here to get them photographed.

Just kidding.

Now for Caleb.  He just wanted something to explode, and his partner wanted to do a volcano with Diet Coke and Mentos, so it was the perfect partnership.  However, since these two guys have the highest averages in the class, the teacher added a girl who is failing and a new boy who can't speak English.  

So basically, two did nothing.  One bought supplies.  And Doug and Caleb built the volcano.  Now for the tricky part...the explosion.  Even though Caleb's partner had seen the Mentos demonstration on youtube, he failed to realize that Diet Coke and Mentos are scarce here.

I will clarify and say I have seen Diet Coke, but it's only sold in cans.  Not 2L bottles.

We found Mentos GUM everywhere, but it wasn't until two days before the fair when we saw some Mentos tablets, and by then we'd already tried three different combinations of elements (based on what we could find) to create an "explosion" and settled on one with vinegar, water, food coloring, and baking soda.

There is no Home Depot or Wal-mart here, but Doug managed with a dish drain, some wire, and expanding foam to make the volcano.  Caleb helped him paint it.

The Japanese consulate really liked their experiment, and they won second place out of 5th-8th grade.

I did get a lot of laughs as I walked around listening to all the students explain their projects to Doug and me.  One 8th grader kept telling me about predators and "pree" in her science demonstration.  (She just didn't know how to pronounce "prey.")

And this poster gave me a chuckle as well.

Karis and her partner both have the highest averages in their class, so it was nice that the teacher paired them together.  They worked well with each other, and did a great job.

In case you are wondering, this is how tall Karis is compared to most of the girls in her class ;)
This lady is the science teacher for 5th - 8th grade.  My kids like her, and she's pushed them really hard this year.

Each wall of this room is a different grade.  Four walls.  Four grades.  Small classes.  What you are seeing here is part of 6th in the back and part of 7th on the left (Karis told me her 7th grade class has only 13 people in it).

This gentleman on the right is the high school math teacher.  He is Kylie's favorite teacher, and she has started to like science because of him.

As I said in my newsletter, Caleb's team of four won second place, and their prize was a hard back book.

ONE book.

A man from the US consulate also gave Caleb a magnet.

And now I have eleven months to get over my science jitters before we have to do this all over again.


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