On the Last Sunday in May ...

A Day at The (Science) Fair!

This post is about our homeschool group's Science Fair - and all the neat exhibits and nice kids - but most of all, it's a post about Earlybird and how he participated in his first science fair ever!

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(The Fair was held in the community room of a local library. Unfortunately, there's not much natural light in this room, so my pictures are all rather dark.)

So to back up a bit, when I first got wind of the Fair, we - or rather, I - decided to do a tree project with Earlybird. I thought this would be easy since trees are readily available to observe. They are also something familar to EB and of which he is quite fond. There are other "scientific" things he likes - such as planets and steam engines - but he's a bit obsessive about those subjects. I thought we'd "branch out" a bit and choose something a little more low-key.

Ideally, when it comes to science fairs and the like, a child chooses his own subject. But EB can be funny about these things. Knowing that he'd balk at the idea of "doing a fair" or making all these activities "more important" than they seemed to be ... I kind of kept the Fair itself under wraps.

So we just started talking about and looking at trees everyday, and on Arbor Day, we conducted the "Tree Poll" at my blog. Then over this past week, leading up to the Fair on Friday, I kind of kicked things up a notch and we started creating a presentation from all our work. (At this point EB knew we were going to the library on Friday *with* Daddy because he had the day off, and that we'd see our homeschool friends there ... he still didn't know his tree project would be on display!)

And speaking of displays, here it is!

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I chose an end corner next to the doorway for EB's display, because I wanted it to be easy for him to duck in and out of the room.

Our exhibit consisted of this:

A binder entitled "Trees by Earlybird" (only, we used his real name, natch) which contained many pages of tree-related information and activities (quotes from books we read, bark rubbings, worksheets, maps, pictures of "our" trees, a bibliography listing books we read, a favorite tree quote, etc.).

A bin holding "Tree Things" we collected: acorns and helicoper seeds, spruce cones (with fresh sap), bark, leaves, etc.

A maple tree sapling, complete with roots. (Pulled up from our front lawn.)

Also on display, our Tree Poll results!

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Bill helped EB and me take our raw data and turn it into this great graph! (He used the Numbers program on my Mac to do this.) And as it turned out, maple trees are the most popular tree! (My own pick is the sugar maple - for its gorgeous, orange fall foliage - though I also love oak, apple and hawthorne trees, too.)

Just for fun, I had EB decorate a small tub with leaf stickers and we set up a small voting station as part of the exhibit. (Maples won, once again!)

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Fyi, the orginal results were as follows:

Maple ... 13 votes

Oak & Cherry ... 9 votes each

Birch & Willow ... 5 votes each

Dogwood, Apple & Eastern Redbud ... 4 votes each

Magnolia, Redwood & Japanese maple ... 3 votes each

The rest of the trees got 1 or 2 votes apiece: Poplar, Crepe Myrtle, Plum, Christmas, Banyan, Pine, Palm, Aspen, Ginko, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Carambola, Jacaranda, Pecan, Cedar, Balsam, Hemlock.


So the older boys and I had arrived ahead of time to help with set up. Bill brought Earlybird over a bit closer to the start time ... and as predicted, he completely changed his mind as they approached the library.

"No, I don't want to go to the Library! I just want to stay home!"

Fortunately, as EB gets older, it's easier to snap him out of these bouts of indecision and obstinance (they usually concern transitions of some kind). In this case I just took his hand and suggested a quiet turn about the library - no pressure, just walking around - and this seemed to re-set his batteries. Once he let go of that tension he was ready to try again ... in fact, look how excited he was to check the Fair out!

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Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) he would go nowhere near his own exhibit (or that of his brothers - seen below, to the left of EB's tree display) so I could not get a picture of him *with* his own project!

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I think he was quite over trees by now, lol. But he found the other exhibits very interesting!

Naturally, the solar system presentation was a huge draw.

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As was the shark exhibit ...

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 (He really wanted to get his hand in that blue water!)

As the room filled up with presenters and observers, EB got itchy, so Bill took him over to the children's room to decompress.

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Nothing beats a little train-table time for finding his "quiet" again.

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Meanwhile the kids finished setting up. I think there were 20 presenters in all! If I may, I'd like to give you all a little tour ...

Here we have a display about Bridges.

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And another on Migrating Birds.

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This one was all about The Human Heart.

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And this was an experiment on Current Electricity.

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This presentation was all about Aerodynamics ... that is a flight simulator program being demonstrated on the laptop. How clever!

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Here's a presentation on Robots ...

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... and another on Alchemy, an early form of chemistry, practiced in the Middle Ages.

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This was a very cool River Delta demonstration.

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And this was a super cool Magic Milk experiment!

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Some of the kids prepared talks to go along with their displays. This first talk was on Solar Energy - it was very enlightening! (And wonderfully dramatized!)

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This was perhaps the most adorable presentation I've ever seen. This little boy (I'm not sure of his age, but as you can see, he's quite young) prepared an exhibit all about the Saber-Tooth Tiger. His talk was very informative and focused. As he talked, he showed us his saber tooth fossil which looked just like the real thing - a tooth that could grow to be about 19 inches long! Unfortunately, however, as this young lad pointed out, his fossil tooth was only 10 inches long ... because they ran out of clay. :)

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And here are my older boys in the midst of their talk on Steampunk Science, aka "Victorian Era Science in Fact and Fiction, and How It Compares with Modern Day Reality." They talked about the Industrial Revolution, steam power and machines like submarines and airships as they were first imagined and then later invented. They brought books by Jules Verne and Scott Westerfield so they could give examples of science-influenced literature. And of course, they built Legos - a "steam-powered" airship and a scene from a famous "steampunk" movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

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Not shown, but also present, were exhibits on the largest flower on earth, first aid, tsunamis, as well as a great ball contraption.

Everyone worked so hard on their projects and everyone was so good about paying attention and showing respect to others. They really are a great group of kids - and familes! - and we're blessed to be learning and living alongside them.

As for Earlybird, well wouldn't you know it, he ended up having a GRAND time at The Fair! He would dart out of the room if it got too crowded (or too quiet if a talk was being given) but he really enjoyed looking over all the exhibits and asking the kids to tell him all about what they had done. We were very proud of how well he handled himself, and the day, from start to finish!

The Fair wrapped up around 2 p.m. At this time we broke down the displays and tables, gathered our stuff, said our goodbyes and headed home.

And that was our Day at the (Science) Fair!

Now, before I go (and I know I've kept you here long enough!), I'd like to show you what EB and I set up in his room today ... see the third shelf down?

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This is the kit that was used by the boy who did the Solar System exhibit - the one EB loved so much! It's called Smart Lab: Stars and Planets. My friend Patricia told me where to find the kit and today I picked one up!

And when I got home, EB and I set up a little "science fair space" in his room ...

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He's quite pleased, as you can see ...

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I think the wheels are already turning for next year!


Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed this (not-so-little) tour of our Homeschool Science Fair! Thank you so much for reading and letting me share the joy we found in our day. It really was such fun - a great experience to remember and build on.

Hope you're all having a good weekend ... I'll see you here again very soon!