Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Favorite time of the School Year (NOT)

It's that time again. I have learned to dread this because getting through it is kind of like chewing your paw off to get out of a trap.

Ironic, really, because my boy loves all things science fiction, loves building, loves experimenting - but he does NOT love Science Fair. Even the process of selecting a project is torturous. Today was the deadline for handing in your proposal. ZBoy is proposing a behavioral experiment which includes things like apples, pears and his gerbil (who will hopefully survive this sudden onslaught of fruit in his diet). He wants to find out which fruit Stormy will prefer.

M'kay. I suppose that if this is not an acceptable experiment, his teacher will come back with a no and we'll start all over again.

In the meantime, tonight was McTeacher Night at McDonalds, saving me the effort of cooking. We went, bought chicken nuggets and hamburgers from teachers posing as McDonald's employees (and probably fervently hoping not to join their ranks for real), and sat down to eat, which included having our picture taken by the principal. The place was filling up as we left, but Z wasn't ready to go home yet, so proposed that we drive a couple of blocks down and visit the Barnes and Noble bookstore. I agreed.

As we wandered the aisles, there was an announcement overhead that the National High Magnetic Lab would be setting up a table at the front of the store and showing kids some experiments having to do with a vacuum. ZBoy said he wanted to stay for that, so I sent him up front and followed a couple of minutes later with hot chocolate.

It wasn't a huge crowd, but the kids that were there were enthralled. The little girls crowded in close, while the two bigger boys looked on from a short distance.

First were the marshmallows. They were placed under the thick glass dome and the vacuum was turned on. As it worked, the people running the experiements asked the kids what they thought would happen to the marshmallows as the air was sucked out of the dome. A couple guessed right, that the marshmallows would expand. And when the air was let back in, they collapsed back to slightly smaller than their original size. This was followed up by questions about what they were made of and why they grew when the air was pulled out.

Then the experiment was done with colored water in a beaker and an open-ended graduated cylinder stuck in the water (open side down). Again, Q & A as the experiment was carried out. Z was really enjoying himself by now.
They did the experiment with balloons and cola and peeps, talking each time about air pressure and how it affects these various objects, and what happens when the pressure is removed.
The Mag Lab comes every third Thursday of the month at 6:30pm to do this (different experiments each time). I think ZBoy and I might make this a regular date.
It did kind of fire him up about participating in anything science - which is what I hoped for. Let's pray that his enthusiasm lasts long enough to get us through Science Fair season!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

there are books with long lists of suggested science fair topics.
Usually they won't let you do one with live animals.