It's spring, and once again, school Science Fair time. To remind you, the Science Fair is that special event where young students are told to design, build, execute, and write up a scientific project of their own to be replicated and presented at school for assembled students, faculty, and parents. As a parent of three and a veteran of many, many Science Fairs, I can tell you with confidence that 99% of the time the kid comes home with the packet of instructions and deadlines, shoves it somewhere under a pile of Xbox game cases, completely freaks out in screams and tears when they realize the project is due TOMORROW and it's 50% of their grade, and then the parent does all the work and the kid gets an "A." The only thing really scientifically worthwhile about this venture is the correlation/confidence level in the above pattern.

So, what do you do as a parent if you don't want to do 4th Grade Science Fair over again at age 40 and you want your kid to actually do this and learn something? Here are three ideas for projects, albeit absolutely terrible ones, that your child might actually be able and willing to do. Go ahead and blame me if anyone complains -- the school districts these days have no money to sue anyone! HA!


Hypothesis: My sister will cry and freak out if I scare her in the middle of the night by banging pots and pans in her room as she's sleeping, and will continue this behavior even if done at the same time every night for a week.

Test: Pots, pans, clock, sleeping sister, notebook to write down reactions, earplugs.

Write Up: Analyze data to determine if sister continues the expected response, becomes acclimated to the noise over time, or gets mad and hits me.


Hypothesis: A tuna salad sandwich, an orange, and a slightly opened bottle of milk left in my lunchbox for a week in the trunk of my dad's car with produce a rich decaying matter, the smell of which will permeate the entire vehicle.

Test: Lunchbox, sandwich, orange, milk, decent stash place in Dad's trunk, time.

Write Up: Ranking system for horrifyingness of stench from 1-10, ranking system for anger of Dad 1-10.


Hypothesis: A mustache drawn on an unsuspecting teenage brother with black Sharpie will not be noticed until at least ten people point and laugh at him at school. Brother will react with blushing, attempt to wash mustache off, and desperate need to place blame on younger sibling for all of life's miseries.

Test: Keep brother up late playing Xbox. Set his alarm so he will wake with only 5 minutes to get to school the next morning. Carefully sneak in and draw Sharpie mustache on his upper lip as he sleeps. Make sure bathroom is made unavailable in the morning rush and cover other mirrors with towels. Shadow brother at a distance at his school, noting passing reactions, and eventual reaction of brother. Remain WELL hidden for duration of test.

Write Up: Chart with intersection points of contact, reactions, and outcomes. Run.