Livia, Scientist

Dear Livia,

Your science fair was yesterday. You and I had a great time, but it was a rough road getting there. To be honest, I hadn’t even wanted you to sign up for it, because I had a sneaking suspicion that the bulk of the work would fall on my shoulders. But you talked me into signing you up anyway.

You had a basic idea of what you wanted to do (something with paper airplanes), but you didn’t know how to design an experiment, and I didn’t know how to guide you. Time passed quickly. Too quickly. Suddenly it was the night before, and you hadn’t done your experiment. Still, you insisted on going to the fair, so we had no choice but to find a way to proceed.

We finally came up with something. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to show evidence that your hypothesis was correct. You did the experiment, but you didn’t have enough time left to create your presentation. So while you were at school, I did it for you. It took three hours of printing, cutting, and pasting, but I got it done. By the time you got home, all you had to do was fill in the blanks.

I wasn’t pleased with how this worked out. I worried that you might learn that it’s OK to put things off too long, and that someone will bail you out if you do. But I reasoned that the point of this first science fair wasn’t to do perfect science or even to do all the work yourself. The point was to get you interested in science. Next year you’ll be older. You’ll be able to do more for yourself and design a better experiment. And you’ll have happy memories from this science fair to motivate you.

And when I say “happy,” I mean it. You absolutely glowed. You enjoyed having the opportunity to talk about something that interested you. You did a great job of explaining your experiment, and you got wonderful feedback from the teachers. I hope the lesson that you ultimately learned is that science is fun.

But there is one thing I want to know, a scientific question I throw out to the Universe: how come glue sticks are everywhere when I don’t need them, but if I need one, they’re almost impossible to find, and when I do finally find one, it’s half dried up and super icky?

Just wondering. Science will do that to you.




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