Science Projects: Parents Worst Enemies


Photo credit: Memekiller / Foter / CC BY

What follows is based on a true story, however, it’s not meant to be taken entirely seriously.

Is there anything worse when it comes to parenting than science projects? I’m not talking about attending the science fair and looking at all the hard work the parents kids did. No, I’m talking about everything that goes into the project BEFORE the fair. The blood, sweat, and tears that go into preparing the project is what I’m referring to, and to some parents, like me, it’s hell, pure hell.

In my home, science projects bring out the worst is all of us. I’ve probably seen each of my three boys do between 2-4 projects over time, and none of them have been without some sort of problem, and all have included last minute stress.

Here are our four stages of Science Projects.

Stage 1: Denial

Here is how it goes. My son brings home his science project packet with descriptions of how to do everything. We take the packet, and neatly file it away in our handy “Stuff we hope gets cancelled” folder. A week later, we say, oh hey, we should get started on the science project, what are we going to do this year?

A discussion develops and I remember science projects from my youth. As great as it sounded, my two-liter soda bottle with the tornado inside was actually a terrible idea, and a common one.

Thankfully, the internet has loads of ideas for projects, so we land on one. Something that doesn’t actually seem scientific at all, but something that an eight or nine-year-old might actually be able to accomplish. Then we forget about it entirely for at least another week.

Stage 2: Anger and Frustration

It’s crunch time now, one week until the project is due. It’s time to start going over things like the Hypothesis, the Research Question and the bibliography. This has to be typed out and watching my son try and type at his age is like watching an elephant on roller skates. It gets to the point where I just decide to type it myself.

This is also the stage where my wife and I get into an argument because neither one of us wants to do the stupid project. Someone’s feelings might get hurt, we might yell a little, all the while forgetting that this is over a little kid’s fourth grade science project.

Stage 3: Depression

Just when things start to come together a little bit, we’ve got our tri-fold poster board looking decent and the written stuff is done, something breaks. It might be the stuff you were going to glue onto the board or it might be worse. One year, I remember having to re-glue what seemed like one million M&Ms back onto a board after several were destroyed overnight by a pet. Just when you think it’s almost done, it’s time to re-live a little bit of your experience. This is also usually the time when we look back at our instructions and realize we have left out some key element. This is something I’m tempted to ignore in the moment, but usually end up doing anyway.

And then it’s done. Everyone hates science and each other a little bit.

Stage 4: Acceptance

But we all recover, and to be quite serious, this year my son aced his project after building a pretty cool ArtBot. It wasn’t the worst year for science projects, but I’m already dreading another year.

Have any science project nightmares in your past?


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