Friday, March 11, 2011

O, elementary school. It does not change, cannot be changed. Our first family science fair. Second place for attempting to discover what will happen if you put sugar in different bottles of things and shake them. Based on the first place ribbons I saw, it is clear that the science fair judges of today have a distressing lack of experimental spirit, awarding only those projects that answer questions we all know the answers to: yes, potatoes and lemons still light bulbs, you can still make crystals with a crystal-making kit, heavy things still sink.

Second place is reserved, it must be, for the questions that grown ups can't answer and are afraid to find out. And this is why the ribbons are red. The judges are looking in the wrong places.

Next year I will bring my own special ribbons--I think they will be black, maybe with an unblinking eye in the center--to award those projects that leave me cold and trembling, the ones that I hurry by, with results that have been slowly sliding down their cardboard boundaries all night and pooling on the folding table below them or that explain their research in a 10 point font named "Scrawl." Until next year.
We learned a lot about the Civil War.

And the book is alive and well.
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