Sunshine, meet Science

Today is science fair day. It wasn’t required for her grade level, but I wanted to give Sunshine the experience of doing a project to completion and then showcasing it at school. She decided on plants, because she normally sings to her plants anyway.

This is Sunshine's poster board

This is Sunshine’s poster board

So, we bought seeds, dirt and planted two plants in little coffee cups. Sunshine enjoyed singing to one of the plants everyday and leaving the other one in the guest room. I loved it when she came running one day “Mama, they are growing!!”

So now its time to make the poster board. The instructions clearly state that parents “should refrain from overly assisting their children”. So I typed up the info for the board (because her handwriting isn’t always legible right now) and printed letters of the alphabet to color and use to title the sections of her project.  I also used a recommended website to create a lovely graph of her data.

Sunshine did all the coloring, most of the cutting, and most of the gluing (and you can tell).

I take her to school today to drop off the project, and I see rows and rows of damn near professional projects. The one next to her’s looks like it is a college level presentation with glossy xrays of bones, little flaps with tons of information on it. Nary a glue stain or scissor error to be found. The title of the project is made out of wooden letters, painted in bright colors and glued to the board. I felt a little better when I noticed that “BONES” was spelled “BONS”. Just a tiny bit.

The little peek of the other projects revealed a hovercraft, demonstrations on the action of breathing (complete with soda bottle lungs and a balloon diaphragm) and similar projects to Sunshine’s. Only that one was professionally typed and put together. No kid (even in the fifth grade) has handwriting that perfect.

I understand the motives of the other parents to “help” their kids, but what is it teaching them if the parents are doing it?  Sunshine learned the value of starting a project, learning about plants, doing an experiment and exhibiting her findings.  She learned that she can’t quit halfway through, and that Mommy will only help with certain things.  She learned that its hard work to do something like this, but she did it, and now she has a sense of pride.

We will go to the official exhibit tonight to see if she has won anything.  She will get to see everyone else’s projects and we will probably have a discussion about the number of projects that did not look like a six year old did it.  I’ll have to explain to her that sometimes parents help their kids too much, and she did an amazing job because she did it herself.

She is learning a lot of life lessons this week..

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