Monday, March 21, 2011

Science is Maddening

Okay.  So, today wasn’t so much a dance around the house with a smile on my face kind of day.
For the past month I’ve known… and my son has known about an upcoming science fair.  It’s taking place on the 31st of March, however he has a booklet that he was supposed to fill out and turn in on the 22nd… yeah, tomorrow.

It’s about a 15 page booklet asking all kinds of questions… it’s pretty much the entire science project that is due tomorrow, minus the poster board.
For a month now, pretty much every day I’ve been asking Droid to get going on his science project.  Every day I got the same answer, “I’ll do it later.”  Of course he was sitting in front of a video game which was totally demanding all of his attention. 
I really wanted this to be his project, and I wanted him to initiate working on it, however, I totally forgot about the darn booklet that was due before the 31st. 
Sunday I remembered it, and we sat down and scoured the internet looking for science projects.
We found that both lemons and potatoes have the power to light up a small LED light bulb, which we thought was cool, so we thought we would set up lemons and potatoes side by side and see which one was more powerful… which one can keep the light bulb lit for the longest period of time.
So after I dropped off the boys at school this morning I hurried off to Home Depot and bought some copper wire, to connect the pennies and galvanized nails (which I already had) to the light bulb.
Once the boys got home from school I was excited to get this project started.  I knew that it would take some time to get all the wires connected, time how long the light bulbs stayed lit, and then record all his findings into this booklet.
Of course as soon as we sat down I realized that I had forgotten to buy the little light bulbs! 
So I put all four kids into the van (Droid and Oz were fighting over something and they were driving me nuts). 
I decided to run a few errands before heading back to Home Depot for the light bulbs.  I needed to get to the bank and deposit a check, and then return some books to the library that was due today.  As I pulled into the bank drive threw I opened up my purse only to discover that I didn’t have my wallet on me.  I had forgotten that I had taken it out to pay a couple of bills this afternoon! 
The boys were still bickering with each other and I had to tell myself to try to keep my cool.  I drove across the street to the library and ran my due books in, then jumped back into the van and drove the 10 minutes back home to get my wallet.
By then it was 5:00 and my Little Charge is usually picked up between 5:30-6:00ish.  I decided that I should have enough time to get to Home Depot before his Mom arrived.  I double checked to make sure I had my cell phone on me, just in case she called. 
I skipped the bank and went straight to the Depot.  Ran inside, with all four of them in tow, and found the light bulbs… I picked up a couple different sizes just in case one of them didn’t work.
Knowing that I wasn’t going to have much time to cook I stopped by the Taco Bell drive through and all the kids picked out their favorites.
I got home right at 5:30 and did a small happy dance knowing that I beat my Little Charge’s Mom back to my house.
The kids all ate, and Droid was devastated to discover that they had messed up his order.  They didn’t give him the burrito he wanted. 
After a 10 minute ordeal of him trying to steal one of Oz’s burritos, things finally chilled out a bit.
We were finally able to sit down and start assaulting our fruits and veggies with copper, and zinc and wires.
After an hour of trying EVERYTHING I couldn’t get so much as half a watt out of the 4 lemons that I had hooked together.  In complete desperation I ran BACK to Home Depot, for the third time that day, and picked up some hard core copper wire to use instead of the pennies.  I bought some freaking expensive galvanized screws, more copper wire (much of ours was getting pretty messed up) and MORE light bulbs, just in case it was our bulb that was the problem.
I also stopped by the grocery store and bought a big bag of lemons…  the ones we had were getting pretty mangled.
I got home around 7:00 and was getting pretty worried that it was going to be a long night.
I KNEW that this was going to work this time. 
I set up the experiment so confident that this was going to be the moment when we would bring forth light from fruit.
With unreserved confidence I touched the wires to the light bulb.
Nothing happened.
I switched the wires around.
Nothing happened.
I touched the wires to Doc’s voltage meter…
Nothing happened!
Okay… don’t panic.  I read that light bulbs can be hard… but small alarm clocks or calculators are easier. 
I grabbed the boys small single battery alarm clock and touched the wires to it… just like the guy on youtube.
Nothing Happened!
I ripped Doc’s old calculator apart…
And I couldn’t figure out how to take out the funky circular battery, so I dropped that idea.
I looked back at the botched science experiment.
I looked at the clock.
I looked at Droid’s monstrous booklet laying on the corner of the table.
There was no way we were going to get this done tonight.
I told Droid I was done.  And it served him right for waiting ‘till the last minute to do his work.
Of course I sat on my bed for all of 2 minutes before I started looking up super fast and easy science projects on my computer.
Droid picked up his “Mythbuster Science Fair Book” and started thumbing through it… and he came across one called, “Is milk really the best way to stop chili peppers from burning your mouth?”
He asked if he could do it.
Sure… why not?
So, he downed a sixteenth of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper… chewed it for 5 seconds and then downed ½ cup of milk while I timed how long it took for the burn to subside.
Once the burning was gone he did it again, this time drinking water.
We found that milk is definitely the better way to go when ones mouth is on fire.
But… we had to test the result to make sure it was accurate so…
He had to repeat the test again.
Yep… definitely Milk is the better way to go.
So… Droid has completed his science project.
Nope, it’s not as cool as produce lighting up the house, but… I have to say, after all the stress he put me through today, it did make me smile… just a little… to see him squirm. 
That is multitasking if I’ve ever seen it… punishing your kid while completing their procrastinated science project…
I know… I’m a devious little thing aren’t I?

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