Wednesday, March 18, 2015
I am now as smart as a fourth grader
As everyone knows, science fair projects can be very educational...for parents. Because in order for your child to grasp the material, you have to. There is no pretending you know about protons, neutrons and electrons when your child has a bazillion questions about them. Finally, all those times you spaced out in science class or crammed for an exam then promptly forgot the material return to bite you in the butt. And, why, yes: I did major in English in college.
Ah, science fair projects, three words every parent dreads. There's a reason this poster by a mom went viral last year:
Sabrina's project: static electricity. She had to come up with a hypothesis and research exactly what caused static electricity. She had to test out various materials (rubbing a balloon against each to see when it would stick for the longest), make a graph, draw a conclusion. My only previous knowledge of static electricity came from childhood, when my sister loved to torture me by shuffling toward me on the carpet and....ZAP!
Happily, Sabrina is fascinated by science; she goes to STEM club meetings during lunchtime. Max seems into it, too—both kids love doing science experiment kits or our own versions. Good one: Leave a hard-boiled egg in a cup of white vinegar for a couple of days, covered and out of sunlight, until the shell dissolves. Peel off remaining skin, rinse in cold water, bounce the egg on the countertop and your kids will think you are a goddess and oh, if your high school science teacher could see you now!
One thing I learned in the course of doing the experiment is that some science books for kids are terribly written. But bit by bit, with help from online videos, Sabrina came up with an explanation and it made perfect sense to me.
I really enjoy putting together presentations and had to restrain myself from telling Sabrina how to do her board. So the board is all Sabrina, and she's very proud. I'm even prouder! And, wowee, I am all sorts of savvy about static electricity! Tomorrow morning I'll head to her science fair, where Sabrina will explain her experiment and let people try their hand at determining whether wool, cotton, tin foil, silk or hair cause the most static. (Spoiler alert: It's wool.)
Here's another one for ya: Place an empty aluminum soda can on the floor. Have your child rub a balloon all over his hair or do it or him. Bend down, hold the balloon about an inch away from the can and watch the static electricity push the can. Your kids can even do can races.
Go on, be impressed.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:40 AM