I’m in science fair project land. It’s apparently a big deal at Bennett’s new school. I first detected this when we attended the new student orientation for the school last summer and they showed a video of the kids currently attending the school and what they recommended the new students do to prepare for life at The Mesa Academy. Six out of 10 of the kids on the video mentioned, “Start your science fair project early,” or “Think of something really good for your science fair project,” or “Devote all of your waking hours to the science fair project for the next 9 months or we’ll blindfold you and send you out to play in traffic on the 202.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I left that orientation with a distinct feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.
Fast forward 8 months and a week and the project is due in exactly three weeks. The process has thus far been less than smooth, I’d have to say. Just in case you’d like to duplicate it, however, I’ve put together a list of steps.
A Process List for How to Let the Science Fair Run Your Life and Make You and Your Mother Insane:
Step 1: Turn in three potential topics to be signed off by the teacher.
Step 2: Have the teacher reject all three ideas and send you to a website to choose three new topics.
Step 3: Pick three new topics, one of which is obtuse and complicated in a technical sense beyond your mother’s general understanding.
Step 4: Have your teacher reject all but the complicated and impossible-sounding project that even you yourself don’t really have any idea how you’d carry it out.
Step 5: Insert ear plugs.
Step 6: Tell your mom what the science fair project you’re expected to turn in is about. Wait for her to stop screaming. Remove ear plugs.
Step 7: Watch your mom pace around trying to figure out how to possibly carry the project out without going back to school for a degree in computer science.
Step 8: Let your mom (who’s clearly lost her mind) talk you into going to school and begging your teacher to switch your project to this genius idea she just thought of that involves collecting data and diagnosing the mechanical problem her car has been having for the last few months that causes it to not start at random times that even the mechanic wasn’t able to figure out.
Step 9: Sheepishly take this new plan to your teacher even though it sounds super crazy because what can you do; she’s your mom. She’ll probably make you sleep outside and forage for small game in the desert to live if you don’t.
Step 10: Have teacher hesitantly approve this, likely only because she’s tired of discussing all of this with you.
Step 11: Have car quit doing the thing where it doesn’t start, which it was doing at least once a day for the last three months, roughly 10 minutes after new project was approved.
Step 12: Wait a week to see if it’s a fluke and maybe it will start doing it again so you can start collecting data on the instances of it. It doesn’t.
Step 13: Watch your mom’s head explode when she realizes she’s single handedly ruining your chances of a passing grade in 5th grade science.
Step 14: Shake your head sullenly when your mom tells you you need to go back and beg your teacher again to switch back to the obtuse technical project.
Step 15: Go back to the teacher again, who just looks at you now with pity in her eyes for the fact that you are being raised by a lunatic.
Step 16: Break down the theory behind the seemingly impossible project with your mom until you have an actual experiment that can be carried out. Bask in the miraculousness of this victory.
Step 17: Spend an entire Saturday with your mom driving around to various locations to carry out part I of III of the experiment.
Step 18: After you’ve visited 5 different locations throughout Mesa collecting data, realize your mom dropped the expensive tickets to the Chinese Arts Performance she was supposed to take you to that afternoon after working on the science fair project to get extra credit in your Chinese class at one of the locations and she doesn’t know which.
Step 19: Go back to each of the locations to look for the tickets. Pull into a handicapped spot in one of the locations because there’s no other parking and she just needs to run in really quick to ask if the tickets are there. The tickets are not there, but the car does that thing where it won’t start for 10 minutes. For the first time in months. In a handicapped spot. Bury your head in your arms in humiliation and defeat in the back seat while your mom Googles ‘mental institutions in Mesa, AZ’ on her Blackberry.
Step 20: Eventually find the tickets in the trash where you had lunch, covered in orange soda. Rush to the performance to which you’re now 35 minutes late. Enter the auditorium and take a seat without being asked to show your tickets. Revel in the cloud of irony that’s following you around like the stink on that kid Pigpen from Peanuts.
Unfortunately, that’s all the process we have for you so far. We’ll have to let you know how to complete it when we figure the rest out.
On the plus side, I’m now so obsessed with the scientific process that I’m applying it to all areas of my life. I’ve decided one of the three new products I started using this weekend (shampoo, conditioner, mousse) is making my hair really staticy. So I’m devising an experiment to test which it is that’s making my hair stand up. Possible science fair topic for next year?