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Not long ago, I chuckled when I saw this photo come across my Facebook feed. It was
funny. And I had been seeing a lot of people publicly bemoan the arrival of
science fair season. But my family’s view is very different.
The day the flyer about the science fair came home from school, my daughter was stoked. She had an idea and wanted me to help
her begin her research right away.
It was a topic she is passionate about—endangered species.
Specifically, how the production of palm oil impacts some of them. She had
heard about the issue from a number of sources but had yet to dig deep and
We headed to my computer together. Within an hour, we had
collected some fascinating information. She was off and running. Or so we
The following day her teacher informed me the flyer had not
been entirely accurate. Kindergarteners are not allowed to compete individually
in the school’s science fair. They could only do so as a class.
So I got on the computer again, this time searching for an
event she could participate in. I wanted to encourage her passion rather than
see it squashed. I wanted her to have the opportunity to turn it into action. I found an independent, citywide science festival not
associated with any particular school district.
The catch? It was a team event. A minimum of two students was required. I
talked to my daughter about it, and she decided to invite two good friends of
hers, sisters, to join her team.
I reached out to their mom, and she thought it was a great
idea. Her daughters were equally as enthusiastic. We were back on track.
Over the course of the next several months, the girls worked
with an expert from our local zoo, doing research and planning a display based
on the principles of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art,
mathematics). We worked to incorporate the strengths and ideas of each team
Did it take a lot of time and effort on all our parts? Yes. Did it sometimes take away from other things we could be doing? Of course. Do I
consider any of that to be negative? No!
The girls learned a lot, developed valuable skills and, most
importantly, had fun. After presenting their booth to hundreds of people at the
festival, they were awarded second place in the elementary division, based on
popular vote. They were the youngest participants.
Their booth was also prominently featured in our local paper, helping spread their message of conservation to an even wider audience. They
were so proud.
I understand a science fair
is not everyone’s cup of tea. But for my daughter and her friends it was an
For now, at least, we cannot be counted among the haters.