So, the big news is that science fair was this week, but I don’t want to dwell on that too much, so we’ll start with the things we learned Monday through Thursday
Language Arts-We practiced reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Math-We practiced our math skills
Science-We learned about the natural world.
Social Studies- We learned about our interactions with the natural world.
Ok, now that we got through that, we can talk about science fair.
I sent out science fair information packets with the kids at the beginning of December. My thought was: this will give the kids a chance to complete the assignment over winter break. In my letter I stressed, using bold, italic and underline that this project was optional. Since parents have to do so much of the project at this stage of development, I didn’t want to hand the parents an assignment. It had to be a choice that the parents made. Then, in my weekly newsletter, I reminded parents of the date of the project and mentioned that it was optional, but that I would give extra credit to those students who chose to participate.
A week before the fair, I asked students who was planning to participate and they all raised their hands. I thought, Great, half of these kids are in complete denial. Oh well.
The day before the science fair, I asked students who was planning to participate in the science fair. about 2/3 of them raised their hand. I asked each one of them what their project was about and had they made a poster. Most of them indicated that they had but a few said that they were going to do it that night. I thought, Great, most of the unprepared kids realize that their not doing a project, but I still have a few who are in complete denial. Oh well.
The day of the science fair, I got two emails from parents saying that they were told about science fair, and they couldn’t do it, but could it be done for Monday? I replied, that they shouldnt’ worry about science fair, it was an optional assignment. That’s what you get for not reading my newsletters…
1/2 the kids brought in a project. Just as I expected. They presented it and all did very well speaking to the judges. I was so proud of my munchkins!
We had a pretty normal rest of the day until it was time for the awards show. Each participant in the science fair got a certificate of participation in the classroom, but the awards show would hand out ribbons to the winners. When first grade’s time came, two students were handed ribbons. Everyone clapped for them, but the non-winners seemed kind of stunned that they weren’t getting anything.
At the end, the winners stayed behind to get pictures taken and the rest of the class went back. By the time that we got into the classroom, there were four distinct, and equal-sized groups of people:
- Students who participated in the fair and were fine.
- Students who participated in the fair and were crying.
- Students who did not participate in the fair and were fine.
- Students who did not participate in the fair and were crying.
It was a pitiful sight. I brought them all together and told them that it was OK to be disappointed; it was OK to cry. But that I was just as proud of the projects that didn’t win, as the ones that did. Then they started talking:
“I hate the judges!”
“I don’t like this school! I liked my old school where we had fun!”
“It’s all my parents fault! They told me I had to do a project that I didn’t want to do and made me stay up until ten o’clock memorizing!”
“My parents made me stay up until four o’clock in the morning!”
“My parents made me stay up until six o’clock in the morning!”
Then I asked one of the kids who didn’t participate why she was crying:
“I told my mom that we had to do science fair tonight but she said I had to go to bed!”
We picked up our backpacks (Thankfully, I had them pack up before the awards ceremony or we would have never gotten out of there) and all walked outside. I watched the kids coming down, crying.
For half of them; the half that tried a project and didn’t win, I wanted to cry with them. For half of them; the half that didn’t bring a project, I kind of wanted to laugh. The drama of first grade science fair…
And that was the topic of conversation on everybody’s lips: The first grade tear train; complete with kids who didn’t compete and were crying and those that did compete, and weren’t crying.