Friday, April 5, 2013

Prizes For All, Two For One

We raked in the honors at the yearly science fair today. Of course, we only took five projects and seven students. It's hard to light that spark of scientific inquiry in high-schoolers.

Our five projects brought 2 Thirds, 1 Second, and 2 Firsts home to Newmentia. Our only problem was having kids in the same categories. We beat ourselves. Like a snake devouring its own tail. Next year, I need to look at the big picture. Sometimes a project can fall into two or three categories, such as engineering or physics or product testing. So we need to separate ourselves from our own competition.

In addition to the category prizes, one of our elite won a very special Space Museum award for her forward-thinking project. It's a big deal, people. She is invited to their little soiree on Friday night, to be honored along with two runner-ups, and given a prize. But the best prize she received was today, when they announced her name, and gave her a piece of foil. She was walking on air. She had just won her category, and already had her head in the clouds. This was icing on the stratospheric cake.

What? You want to know more about the piece of foil? It is a tiny golden triangle, about a centimeter across, encased in an acrylic see-through figurine. What's so special about that foil? IT WENT TO THE MOON AND BACK ON APOLLO 11, that's what! Something that not everybody has sitting on their dresser. I congratulated her on both her wins, and do you know what she said? "Thank you for helping me, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom." And by "helping" I suppose she meant giving her approval when she came to me with the idea, and allowing her to come into one of my classes to used my students as test subjects, and letting her have some colored paper my students had not used, and a board that was left over. I don't consider that help. She did this all on her own, not as a project for a grade in my class. Though I DID have her in class two years ago to instill the proper procedure into her DNA.

I'm so happy when a student like this achieves success. This morning when she arrived, she stopped to talk before setting up her project. "I just love this time of year! I couldn't sleep last night. Or the night before. I was SO excited! Science fair is TODAY! I know that sounds like a nerdy thing to say, but I just LOVE it!"

Yeah. I kind of love it, too.


Sioux said...

THAT is why we teach...

Chickadee said...

I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. Yes, she did think of the project on her own, but behind the fact that you allowed her to use students from one of her classes, colored paper and left over board, I'll bet you made a difference with words or a smile or just even taking an interest. I'm betting not all the teachers there would be like that.

Hillbilly Mom said...

This is 1/3 of why we teach. Summers and snow days are the rest.

Well...I DO smile and say "Hi" to her twice a day when she walks past me in the hall.

We are very fortunate in our building that MOST of the teachers will go out of their way to help any student who asks. Many of them for FREE, without using career ladder hours or after-school-program pay.