A Story About A Science Fair Project

A Story About A Science Fair Project


Oh my goodness I’m so glad we’re out of school!

I have always loved summer.  We are having a pool break today because it’s rainy and my kids are slightly sunburned, but we have had several glorious days of pretty much changing from our pajamas to our swimsuits and then back to pajamas.  Love.

We’ve acquired several new children’s books for summer and one of them is The Magic School Bus Science Fair Expedition.

My kids love these Magic School Bus books.  The pages are very busy and slightly cumbersome to read, plus it is information overload for my small brain.  However, somehow they just work for kids.

Ben can read one over and over again.

This particular one kind of gives me flashbacks of science fairs, which tends to give me hives.  I have a long-standing hatred of the science fair.  If i could translate into energy the amount of anxiety I expended on the total number of science fairs in which I was required to participate in school, I could power a small country with it.  Really.

My first science fair year was the fourth grade.  I was actually absent when the science teacher gave the directions for the fair and being painfully shy, I didn’t ask for more clarification from this teacher.

As the dreaded event approached, I tried to gather information from my fellow students about what I was supposed to be doing.  No one could give me any insight, because of course all of their parents were doing their experiments.  My parents would not be doing my experiment, not now and not ever.  No way.  My parents were not even the sort to be willing to write on the posterboard so it wouldn’t look like, you know, a fourth grader had written it.

When I whined about my science fair’s imminent arrival, my dad would recount stories from his school days about science classes in which he was required to do something, but never did anything and still somehow miraculously came out with an “A,” because he was  funny and brilliant.  I was neither funny, nor brilliant, so these stories, though helpful for lightening the mood, did nothing towards actually accomplishing a project.

And mother, well…she would be glad to answer any questions except for this one,

What should i do for my science fair project?!?!

Honey, I don’t know.  you’ll just have to figure it out.  I am not going to do your homework for you.

Thanks a lot.

The day just kept getting closer.  Those last couple of weeks were brutal.  Every day a teacher would say something like,

I hope you are working very hard on your science fair projects.  You should be finishing soon and bringing them to school.

At this point, my stomach would just sort of churn and I would try to push the teacher’s comments to furthest recesses of my mind.  I think they are still there, haunting me, causing my aforementioned hatred of science fairs.

Soon, people were bringing their erupting volcanoes and  light bulb set ups to school.  These things were elaborate.  I’m telling you NO fourth grader put these things together.  So by now, I know you are wondering, what did I do for my fourth grade science project?  I’ll tell you.  Someone brought an invention to school, you know, something that had a bunch of pulleys and buttons and probably a rolling marble that eventually cracked an egg or something.

Looking at that project, I realized that we could also do inventions.

Through a stroke of genius, I realized that ACTUALLY, a book is an invention.

It is the invention of a story.

I wrote and illustrated a book the night before they were due.  I made a poster that said INVENTION:  A STORY ABOUT ME.

And dear reader, I swear to you, I turned it in.  I think I might have actually gotten a passing grade.

Maybe it was at the very least obvious that I had done it all by myself.

Someone took pity on me.

That was the beginning of a lot of sweat and tears shed over science fairs. I’m not sure how I survived.

In the ninth grade I begged my parents for one of those tri-fold things so I could upgrade from a propped up posterboard.  Did they take me to hobby lobby and pay $10 for the science fair set up?  Of course not.  Not when you can BUILD one out of old plywood left over from one of my dad’s projects.  The great thing about my tri-fold board was that if you set it next to the sure-to-win project and gave it a little tap, you could knock out the competition in one swoop.  The thing was so heavy that I could barely carry it into the gym!  And though it was my last year to have to participate in a science fair, we held on to that baby for Anna and Peter to use over and over again.  (Sorry guys.)

It occurs to me that maybe subconsciously, I am homeschooling my children just so we won’t have to participate in science fairs.  Maybe if i read this Magic School Bus book to them over and over, by the time they have to do a project, it won’t seem like such a big deal.  They’ll whip it out just like that.

Which will be good, because I certainly won’t be doing it.


  1. ok this is hi-larious. that is definitely the first time i’ve heard of an english project being turned in for a science fair. if ONLY i’d thought of that…

  2. I cried I laughed so hard at your telling about the display Craig made. I remember well how heavy it was.

  3. Somehow, between all my random schooling I managed to miss all science fairs. Thank goodness. I think I would have crawled under a rock. But the book? The book is brilliant! I love it, and it is just the sort of thing I probably would have come up with. Also, my mom would have given me the same answers as Julie… But my dad would have sprung for the tri-fold cardboard thingy. So I have that small consolation.

  4. […] open on the first try.  Or manage to get to class with everything I needed.  Or come up with a science project that would please the likes of Mrs. Moore.  Usually I could get all the way home before I would go […]

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