Friday, May 2, 2014

Another science fair

You may recall from my way back blogging days, I have more grandchildren. Today I went to the Grandparents and other special people day at Francis and Caroline's school. These events did not occur when I was in school; when my children were in school I was not the grandparent. I do recall my in-laws and my parents making a child's day by showing up for a grade school produced pancake breakfast.

France has been at this school for about seven years; I've been to an event there three times. France and Caroline attend a Montessori school in Cleveland Heights, which is a rabbit warren of traffic circles serving seven or more roads, streets that do not bother to go north or south, problems like that. 

The last time I attempted to reach the school for an event, I found the map provided located the school on the incorrect side of the road, and the street address was not on the school, which is behind a wall. 

It was also the first day I'd ceased smoking, so the piece of my mind the school secretary and my daughter each received was blistering.   Google Maps does know which side of the road to use now, and five years later the administration has installed the street address in large numbers on the wall. I was happy to go. I wonder why I am the only person who notices the practical side of life.

My grandchildren who live here attend a public school. I have remarked from time to time, it too seems co-opted by parents. You recall the spring band trip to Williamsburg. For a mere five hundred dollars per child I could send Emily and Hamilton to a band contest there. I told the band director money does not grow on trees in some Hudson school district homes and she added insult by saying Emily could earn her way by selling band candy door to door.

Band is no longer a school function; it is owned by band parents and band boosters. Their will prevails. The band left on Wednesday for this trip, almost four hundred strong, returning Sunday. Only twenty band members remained behind. Commencing Monday the students have Advanced Placement tests; the tests for which the children receive college credit and for which we paid sixty dollars per course for the student to take and be tested on.  My question to the band director remains unanswered: Are these children in school to march or learn?

Back to the event today. France and Caroline are in the same unit; 6th and 4th grades respectively. The unit held a science fair. We were invited to look at the work. All the children I listened to were engaged, committed to their project, more than happy to explain it to any grandparent who stopped,  as we all did at many stations.

Without further ado, rant over, here is a lovely science fair:

Caroline and some unsuspecting grandmother. Caroline's problem: determine if chicks breathed inside the egg. Conclusions: her test was inconclusive, she needs to do further research.

Francis explaining to more grandparents. I didn't completely grasp his thesis, but it seemed to involve the density of Armoral, which I think is a car polish. He demonstrated you can shoot an arrow through a bag of the stuff when it has dried out, but an object with more surface area, like a piece of PVC pipe, can't be forced through.

Uh oh. Spotted.

This young man explained lift and drag to me, 
demonstrated by good old paper airplanes.
I asked to photograph his board and he volunteered himself, too.

Carbon dioxide is contaminating our oceans!

Take your best shot!
I don't remember, but they have the data to support their conclusion.

 And sooner than later, Grandma Ruth and I signed out our two and went to lunch.


  1. Science fairs are some of the best things kids do to learn about their world. Sometimes it's a challenge to be the parent of the science fair student but it goes with the territory. Sad that band has been co-opted. Our free education is far from free. I'm really curious to know more about how chicks breathe in their eggs.

    1. Actually, I think they don't. But I'd have to research that.

  2. I grew up without grandparents - or science fairs. And cannot remember my parents coming to the school for anything - other than very occasional drop offs or pick ups.
    And had the school wanted $500 for anything a) we wouldn't have been going and b) the school would have heard from my parents. At great length and in no uncertain terms.
    That said, the science fairs look like a wonderful learning experience on so many levels - not least confidence in interacting and public speaking. Things I have yet to learn.

  3. Wouldn't it be great if the schools had the money for these projects, science and otherwise? If those activities were seen as a way of growth for the kids to adults? Yeah....but were does this money come from, most school districts? Taxes. Our money. We, over and over, district by district, county by county, state by state, say no. We say no, for whatever reason. No more Big Government. No more taxes. No more whatever.

    Yet we expect our kids to keep up with the rest of the world, science, math, computers. And we gasp and declaim it's the governments fault when we dont. When you examine what the individual cost would be it's usually a few dollars a year, or even month. But no, we ain't gonna give the guvment no more money, we don't care what it's for.

    The schools don't charge those fees willingly, they do it because they have to. You don't want them? There is something you can do, support education. You ever wonder who pays for the highways, freeways you drive on? The infrastructure that lets your garbage and recycle stuff get picked up? You think the fees really pay for that?

    Pay for it.

    1. Geez, this was a rant. Sorry, didn't mean it aimed your way, just a rant, sorry. I get worked up about a few things, this be one of them. Again, apologies.

  4. I think the 20 "left behind" from the band trip will do a lot better in life than the 400 plus that went. I never got some of the science projects we would see over the years; there's a lot of talented kids out there though that do come up with interesting theories to try to prove. Glad you had the outing with some of your other grands.


  5. Dear Joanne,
    a 'Day for Grandparents and Other Special People' is a fine idea - and the children look proud to explain their results of research. It will take quite a while till husband and I might become happy grandparents, but then we will pass that idea on.
    As to the fee for entering the band - if I understood it right - : they should look for talent, not money!

  6. Lovely to hear about your other grand children & their interesting school science projects - good for them !

  7. Hari OM
    Hmmm.. no such thing as the perfect system I suppose. It's a world-wide debate, education; private v public, ad hoc costs etc. The key thing is to ensure the children involved do not get lost and disheartened. What I read is a grandmom who does her darndest to ensure her grandkids know they are loved, need to take responsibility and that not everything available needs to be had. Dreadful English but there was a feeling to convey... &*> YAM xx

  8. I think science fairs are a wonderful idea! it's a good chance for kids to show off how much they've learned and if they can communicate that knowledge to others it indicates an understanding of the work as well.
    It's like something I learned about working, to know your job, do it, to understand your job, teach it to another.
    Now I'm wondering if chicks breathe inside the egg. I don't think so, but can't be 100% sure.

  9. Your band reminds me of baseball. Back in high school the baseball team consisted of the coach, the statistician (me) and twelve players. I don't remember a parent showing up. We played one game per event.

    Now we have a four hour baseball double header with fan wear, concession stand duty, grill duty, jimmy johns for away games, a multitude of screaming parents and grandparents and step-parents, a few $500 bats, pancake breakfasts, a program with paid parental ads I could go on.

  10. I love what Caroline wearing!

  11. only have one grandchild in middle school now which seems to be when all the science fairs happen here. last year the two that are now high schoolers did recycling and headaches.

  12. So many activities at school cost far too much. I'm glad that many can still participate in science fairs. These really help the children to think and problem solve.

  13. Oh what fun! I always loved attending science fairs and feeling the excitement of students trying to explain what their project was about.

  14. The fluid in question is Oobleck, a non-Newtonian fluid. You cannot penetrate it quickly, but can sink into it slowly. They filled a bag with it and shot arrows at it, hoping that the arrow would bounce off (it didn't).