ZBoy is in third grade at a Science and Math Magnet school. Which means that a science fair project is mandatory.
I am not the most scientifically-minded person. Much of what I know, I intuit if I haven't flat out read it. The scientific process makes sense but is a bit of a mystery to me.
So imagine my joy when Z brought home the papers with the information and a sheet to fill out with the proposed project. I looked at him blankly and asked him what he wanted to know.
"Why does an eclipse happen?" We'd just watched the eclipse a couple of nights before.
Sounds good to me, so I fill out the sheet and send it back to school the next day. It comes back that afternoon. Nope. Can't do that. Well, pooh. How about the Bernoulli Principle? "No," says ZBoy. It must have sounded pretty scary to him. He decided to do something about the tides and the moon phases.
So for a month and a half, we cut out the weather section of the paper which contained the tide tables. Monday evening, we sat down and plotted tides and phases on a graph and were amazed to see that some of our assumptions about them were off.
Then I read the project directions. EXPERIMENT? DEMONSTRATION? Um. I couldn't think how to demonstrate the moon's affect on the tides. I'm sure there's a way, but I sure wasn't coming up with it and it was beyond ZBoy's third grade capabilities. Which means we had to start from scratch - two days before the project was due.
I tried again with the only scientific-y thing I knew about. "How about the Bernoulli Principle?" I asked again. This time, Z actually asked what it was before dismissing it out of hand.
After I explained, he agreed that yeah, he could do that. So we went upstairs and hit the internet, looking for illustrations, pictures of planes, a short bio of Bernoulli himself, and experiements we could try. It would have to be relatively simple - remember, we're working on a third grade level here. Finally, we found it and trundled off to bed quite satisfied that we were on the right track.
In the morning, after sending ZBoy off to school, I went off in search of the things we needed. A small fan and a hairdryer, plus neon poster board were acquired at the drugstore, but one item wouldn't be so easy to come by.
I approached the entrance of the sporting goods store. It was apparently under some kind of review by the head office because for the first time ever I saw actual sales people waiting to wait on me. They were dressed in black shirts and nametags and looked very official. I walked into the midst of a gaggle of them and said, "I'm looking for ping pong balls." They looked back at me blankly until one guy said he knew where they were and we set off in that direction. I found a delightful array of balls and picked a colorful set:
After school and KenPo, I revealed my treasures. The little fan didn't work so well for the experiment, but the hairdryer was awesome. We sat down and started with the question: Why don't airplanes fall out of the sky? Then we had to write down what our research had told us, and describe the experiment we would use to prove/disprove the ideas we arrived at from the research.
The experiment itself was to use the hairdryer to float a ping pong ball. Then tilting the hairdryer, see at what point the force of gravity overtakes the airflow's ability to keep the ball in the air.
He turns this part in tomorrow morning. Thursday he has to turn in the display with graphics and pictures and all the fancy stuff that says he actually did some work on this.
Oh, the pressure!