I have a love/hate relationship with the month of December. I love it because it's cold outside and you can get peppermint shakes at McDonald's. I love it because it's about the only time of year, aside from camping, when an adult can drink hot cocoa without looking silly (especially if you douse your cocoa with Bailey's...mmmm...how I wish I was the drinking kind). What else do I like about December? I like buying books and goodies for the kids.
But, strangely, the science fair is a real knuckler for me. I love it (because, it's neat to watch a kid build an experiment using the scientific method and it's fun to see them "get" a principle or make use of a data set). I hate it, however, because it always seems contrived. When I think of science, I think it should be a very natural state of being (especially in childhood). The scientific method is important, and we should teach it, but...I'm just not sure that mandatory participation in a science fair is the best method of applying that knowledge. I don't like that you have a teacher who will basically stand-up and say, "Ok. GO! Think of a question. Form a hypothesis. And, here's the list of six hundred things you're not allowed to do. " And, once the month is gone, the project is forgotten and it seems like the scientific method gets shelved. I could be wrong. But, that's my perception.
That said - Jake's experiment is starting to freak me out (and it stinks!!). He prepped his own agar/petri dishes and took swabs from various places in two kitchens. He wanted to see if cleaning every day resulted in fewer bacterial colonies than cleaning every other day. He was really tight on his methodology - it's pretty impressive. He even brainstormed a way to make his own incubator and it's held a constant 90-94 degree temp. So...he's learned a ton of stuff, on his own, by doing this project.
Alexis has been doing water quality testing from various sources and she's learning a good deal about water safety and potable standards. But, her and I always get into a squall the night before the "board" (which I think is pretty lame..why not just have them prepare a report?) is made. Because, it is then that my type-A daughter takes for. ever. to get the board done. This year, I have already told her that she knows where everything is and I won't be cutting out letter or glue-sticking anything. ;)
I don't know...I think what bothers me is the thought process that, since the sci fair is once a year, it's the only time you have to apply the scientific method. That makes me very sad.