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How my daughter's science fair project is stressing me out

by Traci Schumacher on Fri, 04/05/2013 - 7:22pm

It's science fair time at our school. This is my daughter's first year to participate in the science fair, and boy am I stressed.

Although I went on to get a science degree in college, I never had much success with science fair projects. I always waited too long to start, and I always did a project with plants that proved essentially nothing. As an adult, I have come to accept the fact that my thumb is any color but green. That little tidbit would have come in handy during science fair.

Now, my daughter embarks on her first science fair project, an experiment with plants, and as I watch her not working on it, I feel my anxiety level rise. I'm hoping she can do it better, and have a more positive science fair experience than I did as a kid.

I debate with myself about how involved I should be in this process. Do I stay on top of it, making sure deadlines are met and things are moving along? Or do I stand back more and see what happens – sort of a sink or swim approach? Or something in between?

Part of the problem this year is that my daughter has teamed up with two friends to work on the project, which makes getting anything done more complicated. They have to coordinate and discuss and agree on things as opposed to my daughter simply doing the project herself at her own pace. It makes it hard for me to encourage her to work on the project since she needs the involvement of the other girls.

To a certain extent there must be some parental involvement, if only to schedule getting the girls together to work on the science fair project. And, of course, they will need some supplies. Other than that, how many reminders or suggestions should I really need to give?

I know science fair is a wonderful learning opportunity. Learning about the particular subject of the experiment, the scientific method, planning and organizational skills, deadlines, report-writing, and so on. It's great. I just dread it. But I'm hoping my daughter doesn't catch on to that fact, and that she can make the most of it for herself.

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