My wife told me “we have to go to Vinnie’s science fair tonight,” and I just let out a huge, audible sigh. It was a long day and I wasn’t really feeling the walk up to the middle school in the rain to look at an exhibit I saw him crank out in the last minute.
An exhibit that he didn’t really want to do, and only got finished with constant pressuring and a last minute trip to the office for supplies and heavy use of the color printer.
I didn’t really feel like going, too, because I don’t remember my own time in Middle School that fondly, and I honestly don’t really enjoy hobnobbing with other parents I’ve only met twice.
But I went.
I went because I want to be the type of dad that shows up. The type that supports his kid no matter what. The type that supports science and academic pursuits and lets his son know they’re important. Because they are. And he is. And I want to be.
So, yeah, I didn’t want to go, but I’m so glad I did.
Because Middle School Science Fairs are, apparently, insanely good.
I saw so much creativity and intelligence and humor in these exhibits, it was actually pretty inspiring.
Here are some of my favorite exhibits:
The headlines were really good on so many of them. Hand drawn letters sat next to cut-out laser prints, wedged in between rainbow colored markers.
There were the great, classic food exhibits. Yogurt, Caffeine, Eggs. You could picture the kids in their kitchen making yogurt mold and dropping eggs on the floor. (Oh, and that trimmed photo was for Gassy Beverages, but yeah, I read it as “Gassy Beavers,” too.)
The tech ones were really insightful and well done. This generation is growing up with digital assistants who’ll help them answer homework questions. They’re growing up dependent on wifi and finding creative ways to make sure they’re online (a.k.a, writing wifi password crackers).
The tech ones also made meta jokes they didn’t even realize.
But it wasn’t just food and tech, they were trying to address real issues, too.
These kids are growing up incredibly aware of how race and gender influence people’s actions and opinions. They’re doing more deep-thinking about how ethnicity and gender affect the world around them then most adults I know — and definitely more than their President is.
They’re also growing up in an age full of conspiracies and “fake news.” And through the scientific method, they’re learning to get to the nature of truth — from subliminal messages to Dishwasher advertisements.
Reading the kid’s data analysis sections was sometimes especially rewarding.
“…everyone was not willing to tell the teacher that I stole the 20 dollar bill, most likely they don’t want to be qualified as a snitch.”
There were also “the weird ones” and yes, some of those were the best:
I love that kids today are growing up not just with whatever pop-hit is on the radio like I did.
(I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m actually, honelstly proud that I still know all the lyrics to every Top-40 Radio ‘80s hit ever. But still, you want each generation to improve.)
These kids are living in an age where every single great pop song in human history is available just by saying “Alexa, play 80s hits.”
And the great thing about culture is it keeps growing.
Like an easy listening station, these kids get the best of the ’80s, ’90s and today. And they kids keep absorbing all of it like wonderful little sponges. They’ve got so much to choose from. And these since exhibits show it all. Kids have been melting crayons since they were introduced at the turn of the last century, and wondering if Daredevil’s powers would actually work since 1964.
And finally, my favorite one, of course, was my son’s QUIZ OF THE MIND. I’m so glad I got to the science fair because of him.