Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why I boycotted the Science Fair


I understand that kids want to make volcanoes and see steamy things spew in the gym, but my loathing of the science fair began years ago. My oldest son is somewhat of a perfectionist, so just agreeing on a display and how we would do it was a fight.


We have done bean sprouts, DNA strands, and phases of the moon......but see that is where the hate began. I am not even going to get into the hours and hours of searching, painting, typing, gluing loss of sleep that goes into each one of these.....


Oh no.....what bothers me is that my child can pick a topic, like the above mentioned, and if his board doesn't ask a question a certain way and have a certain type of guess, then show the calculated answer, then all of his work and research just earns him a bad score.


See , it isn't about learning..it is about how you present the scientific method, which is usually the same display year after year done by different kids. My son wanted to learn how a GPS works. He studied it, he used his dad's GPS, he created a Travel Bug and logged all the places it went on the earth, for 2 years, then made an awesome display board with measuring tapes and maps and let kids figure out how coordinates are tallied.... it was a hit, but not with the judges.


(my boys geocaching in Williams Arizona, a few years ago on vacation)

While he had parents and kids alike figuring out map locations and measuring them with 3 separate tapes, the judges did not approve of his display...there was no obvious layout of the scientific method.

SO now when my kids bring home a science fair memo I toss it aside and say, "If you want to do it, go ahead..." but I am done with the searching and preparing just to present something within the confines of the district judges. Maybe I am mean, but to me thinking outside of the box is great for kids.....

Our elementary school science fair is today. Guess whose kids do NOT have a display there. My poor, deprived children.

30 comments:

Erin said...

Wow, I'm so with you on this one. And my oldest is only in kindergarten.

Kristina P. said...

That's too bad! Sounds like a great project!

Strawberry Shortcake said...

I salute you! My kids are not old enough for this stuff yet, but I remember my only science fair. My friend and I decided to do one together so this, obviously, meant that we could not get first place. What? For real? Then, we had to do all of this work and, because the school didn't have enough transportation, my teacher decided that our class (and it was mandatory to participate) would stay at the school so the kindergartners, who didn't enter, could go. Of course, his little teacher's pets got to go and chaperon the kindergartners. Ridiculous. I honestly think science fair projects were designed so that parents could outdo themselves and compete with each other. Otherwise, it would actually be focused on what the kids learned and the creativity of the project. Sorry about your boys, but I completely agree. Sorry, bitter feelings from years past appeared when I read this post! :)

Brooke said...

It sounds like a really great project. I would love to learn more about GPS! I know virtually nothing!

Marie said...

GOOD JOB!! I raise my hand and support you 100%
Marie:)

Vanessa said...

I wished my mom would have told me that the night before my 6th grade science fair when I decided to start my project. She told me I had to pay the consequences and get an F for leaving it to the last minute. While the Fair was going on in the gym, I had to stay in the classroom with the other loser kid that didn't do his either.

Lame district judges! I would boycott, too!

Dione said...

Sounds like the Science Fair should be banned - forever. Or maybe just the judging of the fair. You know what? Life is just not fair!

Me said...

Its really too bad! (that the judges didn't approve). Sounds like it was a hit..and intrigued the masses..which I personally think they are Supposed To Do!

I don't think you are mean for going out of your way getting them to todays science fair!

So said...

That GPS project sounds like it rocked. Scientists are too testy...too logical. I don't like science fairs either.

Karen said...

Why are they judging a science fair? In our district, we have an "education fair" which involves every discipline, not just science. Everything is for display and there's no judging.

Jillybean said...

I'm just sitting here wondering why I didn't think of boycotting the science fair.
I let my daughter make her own poster, so naturally, it wasn't as fancy as some of the other kids. Her teacher and classmates were impressed with her project, but the judges weren't. She didn't win and was disappointed. Her friend won, doing the exact same project that my daughter did last year, but apparently, her project journal was more complete.
My daughter actually LEARNED something from her project, and that's kind of the point, isn't it?

Victoria Elder said...

ive always wondered how a gps worked! sounds like a great project! can hardly believe it wasnt a hit, dumb!

Bobie said...

My 6th grader did a pretty impressive project and didn't even rank. My 3rd grader.... we threw something together pretty quick and didn't spend too many hours on it, guess what? We took 3rd. (Like how I say WE took 3rd??)

Jon said...

@So, I wouldn't confuse the teachers judging the science fair with actual scientists. Their just more public employees filling their days with aimless wandering. I suspect the PE teacher was probably a judge.

If they were real scientists, it wouldn't be much different though. No field is less interested in new things than science. (Read Longitude by Dava Sobel for a great example of that.)

This does remind me of a Saturday morning in high school when my Chemistry teacher called me and asked me if I would go judge a science fair (with some other kids from his class) at a nearby elementary school.
He was supposed to do it but couldn't for some reason at the last minute. He said we'd all get automatic A's for doing it.
So I went and judged the exhibits and then promptly quit going to Chemistry class for the rest of the term. I mean, what good is having an automatic A if you still go to class?

CarrieAnn said...

This post gives me nightmares/flashbacks of fourth grade. Ugh.

Calvin said...

There needs to be a big science fair over-haul

Kristen said their's was under attended this year also..

I would love it if no parental involvement was allowed

I won first place in 8th grade but lost grand prize because my writing was sloppy... my parents didn't help one little bit and I am still proud of that experiment.

Kristen says pooh on the judges.

I think it is ridiculous to judge kids on a project that everyone knows the parents did, there should be a parental science fair...

I also have a problem with little league parents and stage parents... of course my son hasn't been benched, or not gotten the lead in the school play yet, so we'll see what kind of side-line parent I am... I can also see me very tempted to blow little Johnny's volcano out of the water for Greydon... yep pretty sure I'm a hypocrite...

I say bravo on the boycott

Shannon said...

That's so sad about all that work and then not getting the recognition. I would LOVE to see his project.

But I really like our science fair. It can be expirements, demonstrations, or even fact gathering....basically whatever the kid wants to do. And the best part of all NO JUDGING!!! The teachers walk around and the children explain their projects. Then they get a ribbon for participating. The prizes are raffle drawings done througout the night. No projects are judged better than others. I LOVE IT! Reese just did hers and we made an air vortex out of a bucket. She would hit it and blast air at people and knock the cups off their heads. It was a lot of fun, with no competition. :)

Wendyburd1 said...

I hate the bloddy Scientific Method!! I swear it does NOT make any sense!!

MaygreenFairies said...

Hey There, Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and for your kind words!! I've really enjoyed my visit to your blog and I shall return. Mandy x

Kristina P. said...

Ramona, are you planning on coming to the meet and greet tomorrow?

Mina said...

Last year my daughter's teacher wanted her on the science olympiad team. It's a huge commitment. Like a year round sport with early morning practices. And it is a competition. Our school traditionally did very well. I left the decision up to her. But I was so glad when she opted NOT to.

Calvin said...

I don't know... I think I like competition...

skiba motorsports said...

Good for you. We just did our first and hopefully last science fair project. I totally know what you mean by how much work it is. And we did not even put in nearly the time or have as neat as a project as yours. Ours wasn't judged because chance was too young. But still it seems like alot of work for a certificate of completion and a miniture laffy taffy stapled to the certificate for participating.
Sounds like you had an awesome project. Geo Chaching is way fun. We just got back from Dumont Dunes in CA. and I was surprised at how many geo caches were in that 2 mile radius we found like 20 geo chaches there. Our kids love it.

liz said...

Hey Ramona! So fun to hear from you! I've been reading past posts on your blog and had no idea you are such a talented writer... you know JUST how to say things the right way! I'll definitely have to be back! Thanks for popping in and saying hi. Tell Melanie hi for me! :)

Jessica G. said...

Hey, I didn't know you guys were into geocaching! So are we!

And I missed seeing you today...

Amanda Elton said...

What an adorable blog! I love that you have all boys too! Boys rock!

Beth said...

Stop the presses and stop the madness!! I think the majority of you are missing the entire point of the science fair. It is to help children begin to think like scientists using the SCIENTIFIC METHOD!!! If you know the reason why your children are not doing well, why don't you help them learn the right way to do it instead of teaching them to bow out and quit when the going gets tough?!?!? Stop punishing your children and start making the science fair into a LEARNING EXPERIENCE! I, too was at your frustration point and I had a few hard lessons to learn. Here is what I learned: I must remember that just because my child is interested in a scientific topic, it is NOT a science project and that just because you do a science experiment it does not mean you are doing a science project. I found a website that helped me and my children learn how to do a proper science fair project. Here it is... I hope it helps some of you as well: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/category/science-fair Good Luck to all of you!

FitToSeeJane said...

I agree with you... That science fair is right up there with a 'Coloring in the lines' art contest. Sometimes schools are way off.
Some kids just take off and do these things themselves, but for the others, extra curricular means that-- not necassary.

Jon said...

I guess I'm in the minority, but I'm definitely PRO competition and PRO scientific method.
Seriously, how can someone be against the scientific method? That's like being against gravity.
It is simply a fact. Embrace it and apply it in all sorts of ways - or just lay in bed and wonder why it is hard to sit up.
When Alma says "..experiment upon my words..." (Alma 32:27), what was he talking about?
You guessed it campers - the scientific method.

Now, the fact that science as a career field is a cut throat place where the truth loses out to the ability to write a good grant proposal should not be taken as an indictment of the scientific method.

ramsam said...

Okay, okay, so a couple votes FOR the scientific method. I get it, as far as you are talking. But then again- look at the world of scientists and the studies they do...I don't know how to say it...but yea, it's not my favorite field out there.

My point is exactly what you are saying... WHY go to a website and get a question off there? What does my child learn from copying someone else's (already done and over done) idea, just to score with the judges? Who cares what bleach works better or what battery lasts longest by 10 minutes. Booo! Boring!

But that's okay if you love science fairs and I don't...it's all right. I love Phantom of the Opera, and maybe you don't. It's all good.