Abbey was looking forward to participating in the Science Fair this year. She was excited to come up with an experimental question and do some actual experimenting to come up with the answer. She was even happy about working with three other students in her class to accomplish a scientific goal.
The 5th Grade teachers created an amazing, well-organized schedule for the students to follow, with checklists, due dates, and hurdles to be jumped before the Science Fair. There was even going to be an online component this year with a NESA Virtual Science Fair, an online posting of projects to share with other schools around the world. Exciting, right?
Well, then the work began. Abbey's enthusiasm was high as she and her group began to brainstorm ideas and come up with the experimental question. As she sat at the computer and typed up lists of materials and each process paper, I offered to help but she assured me that everything must be done by the students only. So I threw up my hands in relief and said, "Go for it!"
Soon I noticed Abbey's excitement waining and she began to comment about her team members not focusing on the work at school. Then she mentioned that it was required that her group meet outside of school to do the experimenting. This is when things began to unravel. Abbey would suggest the group meet at our house on a Saturday and then the girls would start arguing over whose house they would meet at. Abbey didn't care; she just wanted to get things moving.
Then as the meetings rotated from house to house I would hear about a lot of non-science-y stuff going on. One day as I was driving Abbey to a meeting and asking all the right questions, I realized that there would be no parental supervision at the house, only a maid. What to do? The project must go on, right? So when Brett took her to the next meeting and only two maids were supervising he brought Abbey home. Abbey's friend called her when the dad got home and Brett made a second trip.
Now I don't think any of these situations were the fault of any of the girls. They were doing what normal 5th graders do. I just don't think most 5th graders have the maturity to organize outside school work like this project required. When students this age get together they want to talk and have fun. They want everyone to come to THEIR house for the meeting because it is difficult for children this age to put aside individual concerns and think about the goals of the group. Abbey was able to do that but she is around adults a lot and could see what would happen if they didn't cooperate. I truly think the teachers were way too optimistic about how the project could be accomplished.
More interesting things happened that I won't mention here, but needless to say, Abbey and I are not fans of the group science project. It became way too bulky and complicated, and in Doha, we don't need things to be MORE complicated. With all the wonderful outlines, plans, and goals the teachers prepared, I don't think they were thinking about the fact that parents might be unhappy about maids supervising science project meetings and then, even when parents were present, students might not make the best choices on how to spend their time together - I really didn't want to explain to my daughter what a book titled Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man was all about because one of the girls pulled it off another girl's family bookshelf!
The good news is that after every setback, Abbey pulled it together and ended up with a good science project. She learned some amazing skills of sticking up for herself, working hard, pushing through people issues that didn't have anything to do with her, and following through no matter what happens. Abbey has always been amazing; I got to see her perform at her most mature level though and come up with solutions to some very daunting problems. She is one of my heroes and I love her so much!
EXPERIMENTAL QUESTION: Does the material of a boat make a difference of how far the boat will travel?
The Science Fair