Saturday, February 11, 2012

Did I Pass?

I have passed seventh grade twice, fifth grade thrice, and third grade four times. And I'm doing it all again.

That is to say, I've successfully completed these grades once for myself, but they (you know who you are) are compelling me to do it again and again.  It seems inevitable, that my children will come home with a project.

I hate projects.

And because almost all the Nodlings go to the same school ... they're the same projects over and over again.

Now of course the children do their projects all by themselves. Of course they drive themselves to the store to get their supplies. Of course they do all their own research without asking for assistance, and of course they are all wizards on the computer the way the school system requires them to be these days. (Of course they all have their own computers and printers -- silly you, for asking.)


That being the case our oldest, Wynken, is the latest Nodling to have a project -- and not just any project: The Seventh Grade Science Fair. Da Da Da DUM!!

I hate the Science Fair most of all. I studiously avoided it growing up by focusing year after year on either 1) dinosaurs, or 2) salt crystals. (Hey, look -- dinosaur salt crystals!) It's not that I hate science (it's rather interesting), it's that I hate Science Fairs: the pressure of competition, the stupid poster boards, the flimsy models, the lame ideas (are seventh graders really supposed to come up with an original idea?), the awkward reports, and so on.

After having Science Fair Idea Block for a couple of weeks solid, Wynken actually found a cool looking (and mercifully simple) topic called Hero's Fountain. Hero (or Heron) was an ancient Greek mathematician and engineer who did a lot of cool experiments.

Hero's Fountain is a "standalone fountain that operates under self-contained hydrostatic energy".  Huh? Wha-?  Basically it's a 3 tier fountain where you pour water in the top and gravity makes it go down and come spurting out the top again (almost) endlessly.

He came up with the idea and the hypothesis, did research, built a model, conducted the experiment, and typed up the analysis.  I made it pretty.

Now I know that everybody says that you should let your kid do his own project and let his work stand on its own, etc. I get it. I do. Individual achievement. Learning (sometimes by failing). Helicopter parents need not apply.  BUT (you knew there was one) since Wynken has an executive brain function deficiency despite being a near-genius (more on that later), he would still be formatting the title if I didn't intervene. (And I want my computer back.)

This meant that even though I wasn't "doing" the project, it took up a lot of my time (and Mrs Nod's). I had to (literally) stand over him to get him to keep typing, look up stuff, (STOP looking up stuff), get supplies, use the hacksaw and the hot glue gun, and make sure he was following the already-laid-out-for-you outline provided by the teacher.

When it came time to make the display board, he showed me the Wikipedia image of Hero's fountain he wanted to use and we discussed what information he wanted to attach to it.  So I took those things and combined them with a little Photoshop magic into an infographic. I admit, it was a little over the line (but just a little).  It's hard not to want to help your kid, especially when he struggles. And he did work hard. It just took forever.

We went from this:
Wikipedia image of Heron's Fountain

To this:

Wynken's image of Heron's Fountain
Here is the actual fountain he built:

So ... did I pass?


Anonymous said...

Very cool. I hate school projects also, especially when they are supposed to be "pretty". We have 3 in school and 4 waiting to go. I'm thinking homeschooling is a good idea, even if it's just to avoid another diorama.

Patrick said...

Best. Blog. Post. Ever.

You totally pass. :)

Nod said...

Thanks. Next year's project will be "Dinosaur salt crystal fountains".


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