Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mom Flunks 1st Grade Science Project

At first, the spirit of competition did not take hold.  I could barely believe the parameters of the science project that my first grader was supposed to complete.  It needed to display all elements of the scientific method including purpose, hypothesis, procedure, results, conclusion and application.  First grade?  Really?  Daniel could barely write the word "hypothesis" let alone decipher its meaning.

So the school conducted a science fair meeting for all 1st grade parents so they could fully understand what was expected of their child.  Wouldn't this time have been better spent informing the actual kids who I naively believed would be doing the projects?  I said this aloud to another mom who just rolled her eyes at me.

Several of the "recommendations" in doing the science project seemed overtly anti-kid.  These included:
  • Do not have your child write on the project board.  Please use stencils or purchase letters designed for use with poster-board.
  • Graphs are strongly recommended.  Computer-generated graphs are preferred.
  • While you can have your child write out his report neatly, a typed report is preferred.
After an hour of directives that seemed to be aimed at not letting my child anywhere near his own science project, I raised my hand.

"So what portion of the project are we supposed to do, and what percentage do we leave for our kid?  10%? 12%?"

"Oh, this is your child's  project...not yours," responded the Science Adviser.

"But my 6-year old doesn't know how to graph or type, so...."

"Just have them do as much as possible under our guidelines."

I submitted "our" first topic months ago.  I thought it would be fun for Dan and his friends to sort their Halloween loot and determine the most widely distributed candy.  This project was quickly rejected - apparently not "scientific" enough and too much like a market research project.  Fine...on to Submission #2: "What is the impact of helping with homework on parents' blood pressure?"  I thought this would be a funny one - watching normally reserved moms blow a gasket while teaching their kids fractions.  This too got the thumbs down.  "Too many variables" was the official excuse, but I think my son's school was adamant I not reveal how the school impacted parents' health.  Liability issues I assume.  On to Submission #3:

As you can see, putting bananas under light and in paper bags for weeks on end was the bulk of "our" project.  It was tedious.  So when it came time to put together our project board,"we" spent hours striving for perfection.  My husband ran out at all hours of the night for various posting aids (rubber glue, weird blue clay stuff, super glue, etc.).  I searched for just the right phraseology.  When it came time to place letters, we got out the level.  Insanity at its finest. 

We turned in our project months ago and still have not received a grade.  I know we were not one of the top ten submissions that went on to competition, as Daniel was happy to tell me.  Yet I have never received our written report back with any indication of how "we" did.  The only thing I can fathom is we are being punished for not typing out the report.

I am now busy selecting the perfect fonts for next year.  Never again will "we" accept this kind of defeat.

I am so ashamed of myself.


  1. Those Fisher Price Moms are all smiling because they have no hands and are as useless as the average husband.

  2. I have been shocked by what they ask of our kids too! Madilyns project was fun... we decided to find out if all 1.69 oz bags of M&M's have the same amount of candy inside. She actually could do all of the work... I of course helped with the eating.... I mean disposing of the candy after the fact. Jimmy we got a little more scientific and went with the ReThink you Drink project, the teachers all seemed to like that one.
    Nice job on yours! I hope Jack (you) got a good grade!