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November 17, 2010


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While it seems that everyone is going for the wow factor. The most rewarding projects for kids might be the ability to reproduce their results, controlling for as many variables as possible, a good scientific methods understanding, and limitations. Unfortunately its more about parents competing with one another.


This is why I'm glad our school is in Silver Spring, rather than Bethesda/Potomac :) I'm hoping bouncy balls will be more typical projects there.

(If I'm wrong, please don't disillusion me!)


That was my project when I was in fifth grade too! It was fun measuring the relative bounciness of golf balls, tennis balls, basket balls, and super balls! I did a comparison of them being dropped from different heights too. I can't remember whether it proved anything.


You're in good company-- Wikipedia defines Coefficient of Restitution as "bounciness."

The local planet killer

That sounds perfect. It also sounds like a project your kid might have come up with themselves, and can perhaps accomplish themselves and even (gulp) enjoy.

My kids projects always look like crap next to the ones done by 40 year old professionals but you know what? They were done entirely by the kid, and they always get top marks for them. Because the teachers know. And not all of them appreciate having the grown ups do the project.

Unless those people are planning on uploading their kids' homework onto the web every night in college for them. . . . .oh wait a minute. Never mind.

CF Oxtrot

Science Fairs at every grade level are revelatory, because they always are dominated by kids whose "projects" are done by the parents themselves.

Which, I guess, is the point of your listing those absurd pseudo-important project titles, which I'm sure the parents offered with gravitas and pride... in themselves, through their kids, they continue to be superior!

It's all about the I'm Better Than You perspective. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster I'm no longer in the DC area. What preening!

Annapolitan "Snob"

Dear Lord! Reading your recent post reminds me of the movie "Parenthood" where Rick Moranis is using flashcards to teach his daughter elements on the periodic table. My guess is that the majority of your child's classmates have Rick Moranis' character for their parents.


This actually really bothered me last time I helped out with a science fair. I remember a project where the student 'used' cells and virus that were biosafety level 2. When I asked about the technique, she told me her dad did the lab work at his job.


Yes, the teachers (and, worse, other students) always know when the parental involvement level has gotten way too high. I remember one project in middle school at a middle school in Snoburbia that involved electron microscopy. As if. That said, there are some pretty scary smart kids out there, and some of the projects nearby that looked a bit suspicious turned out to be genuine (or at least the student knew a lot more than you might have guessed about the subject matter involved).

Just out of curiosity, how many of those Science Montgomery winners you name were from Blair? Those kids (who are self-selected science geeks) end up apprenticed to scientists who aren't their parents the summer before their senior year, and some of the overkill probably relates to that fact in addition to the hyper-competitive parents.

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