Mom Behind the Brilliant Fake Science Fair Project That Went Viral Explains Why She Did It

scienceDoes anyone enjoy the science fair?

In case you weren’t clear, the answer to that question would be no.

Susan Messina came to that conclusion with a brilliant science project she calls How Much Turmoil does the Science Project Cause Families?

As you can see, it involved tons of research and a complex equation mapped out in the image to your left.

The conclusion: “Everyone hates the science fair.”

Standing ovation, Susan, standing O. As you can imagine, Susan’s fake project took the internet by storm last month. Now, in a blog post featured on The Huffington Post, Susan Messina explains how it all came about.

She says she created the board about three years ago as an inside joke while her fifth grader completed yet another science fair project amid tears and anger. Susan notes the tears were her daughters, the anger her own.

While Susan’s project was never graded, I think we can all agree she gets an A. All joking aside, Susan brings up a good point in her post; there is something wrong with competitive, elementary school science fairs:

“First, any elementary school project that requires a lot of parental time, energy, resources, support, cajoling and financial investment is just BAD. Such projects privilege students from higher-income families for all the obvious reasons. They also take away from family time that families at all income levels have less of these days. And they definitely are a challenge for any students living with parents who cope with physical illness, mental illness and/or substance abuse.”

The solution? Students complete projects in class. Why have a “ragtag bunch of parents” scrambling around creating a project when we have trained teachers there to guide our children? Or how about making a science project an “elective, noncompetitive family project?” then maybe families could explore a topic together and “get rid of the sham that kids are doing the projects themselves.”

Preach it, Sister Susan! I couldn’t have said it better myself. By forcing students to compete you’re basically bringing the parents into the mix, causing a whole lot of drama, and what do the students end up learning anyway? If it’s an elective it is either a non-issue within homes or it can become a family project that, without the intense pressure involved with being judged, can become fun.

What about you? What’s been your experience with science fairs? Do you think they should be competitive or do you think Susan Messina is onto something?

Image: Used with permission from Susan Messina

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