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Day 121 – Tutorial Tuesday: The “Science Fair”

Today was “Science Fair” at the girls’ tutorial.

I have mixed emotions about these types of events. On one hand, the girls learn so much when they are working on projects, and a science project is a great way to practice and test their research. Plus it’s fun to get a little public recognition and a shot at a prize. On the other hand…well…this:

how-much-turmoil-does-the-science-project-cause-families

Courtesy of weknowmemes.com

I knew there was a science fair coming up, but I also knew it was completely optional. Neither of my girls were required to do one. In fact, the younger grades were even given the option to display a collection or a model of some sort, rather than a full blown-experiment. Again, completely optional.

BUT…since the beginning of the school year (that’s about SIX months now) Amelie has been talking about it. “I want to build a Lego model!” “I’m allowed to bring a collection.” “Wait, can I to a project about cats???” 

Friends. No matter how much I aim for transparency on the blog, I still feel people don’t get the whole picture. I’ve heard this firsthand from you: You think I’m patient. You think I’m creative. You think that you’re not cut out for this, but that I am. Let me just just debunk a few of those myths for you right now.

I was banking on everyone forgetting about the science fair.

I figured, “ignore her and the insanity will end.” This is generally a pretty great parenting strategy, you know, overall. I highly recommend it, actually. But that little stinker has persistence I tell you. Persistence and also, tears. Especially after this unfortunate revelation made possible by the note she found in her backpack:

“But MOM! The science fair is TOMORROW!!” 

And she cried.

Really cried.

I mean, what kid CRIES over entering an optional science fair at a homeschool tutorial?

The worst part about it all, is that we all really love science around here. I’m studying biology and sustainability for half of my major, and Josh comes from a long line of biologists. We’re always doing nature walks or digging in the garden. Josh and I constantly talk to the girls about the natural world around them. We have been known to get out our periodic table place mat “for fun.”

What I don’t love, is the word “fair” paired with the word “science.” A fair is a place to get a churro (if you are in California) or a funnel cake (if you are in the south) and ride upside down until the creepy carny decides to end the ride, or until you vomit, whichever comes first. Okay, so maybe a science fair is actually better. I would have still opted for the churro.

Nevertheless, my littlest came to me puppy dog eyes, a box full of mussel shells, and then she begged, “I just want to show my collection.”

It wasn’t her fault that she hadn’t been prepared, she had been asking, and asking, and asking. But I never really helped her get started. Let’s face it, even if the kid is prepared to do most of the work, there is a lot of family effort involved in the makings of the science project, as noted above.

So, Josh agreed to help with the project while I did my homework in the other room. Amelie stayed up until 10pm and got up again at 7am. I didn’t sleep well (meaning, at all) that night because I had a lot of work and school-related anxiety. Josh wound up bringing them to school early so that I could actually sleep and so Amelie could set up her display. Let’s just say, the circumstances were less than ideal.

Still, she was pretty proud of her shell collection.

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I think the point was for the child to learn something about his or her collection. Doing all of the work in one night, I can’s say Amelie learned all that much–except not to procrastinate (uh, which technically my fault) and to never, ever say the words “science fair” to mommy again. Ever.

Just kidding. Maybe.

And you know what? I have zero mom guilt. ZERO. This is life, and my kids need to know that. We can’t always enter every fair, contest, or art show, or even take every class. This is a pretty busy year for me, but I’ll be done with school soon. When one of us is working at a goal, the rest of us make sacrifices for each other. Sometimes that looks like Amelie giving up a project, or like mommy giving up sleep. Or both.

My kids know they are safe and loved. Their basic needs are met. Anything beyond that is a blessing beyond measure, and I believe we have ample reason to give thanks: access to education, a thriving homeschool community, friends at church, and loving family from here to California.

Maybe next year won’t be so crazy and we’ll have some ideas a head of time.

Churro versus Funnel Cake: a Systematic Study 

(I added that last bit to sound extra science-y!)

For now, I’m just keeping it real in the homeschool world.

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