Science Fair Thoughts

Richard_Heath heath at
Sun Mar 5 15:33:13 EST 1995

In article <3j8eus$n1h at>, cdonahey at (Cynthia Donahey) writes:
> I have seen so many postings about science fair projects, that I thought I
> would post an observation about science fairs in general.
> Some years ago, I was wondering through the science fair at my daughter's
> school looking here and there.  For some reason, I looked pretty carefully
> at the nut section.  (OK, I admit it, my daughter had switched from a
> landfill project (the year before) to one on ESP and Plants.  They moved
> her to the nut section. No $50 special award from Waste Management, just a
> project that interested her. I figure if she had just continued to expand
> on that project every year, she would have just continued to collect money.
> Anyway, I checked one out on "How Many Angels Can Dance on the Head of a Pin."
> I looked at Robert inquiringly and his story came out in a rush.  Unlike
> my daughter, he was embarrassed.  Apparently, his minister had picked out
> his project.  His church was going to send him to college (where he
> planned to major in music) and he didn't want to offend anyone. 
> Seriously,  there is a correct number of angels and a way to do figure out
> this number.  I guess this is a proper and popular science project with
> those that want to remain true to their church.  A lot of these kids are
> between the devil and the deep blue sea.  Science fair is mandatory in
> middle school, but most "valid science projects"  are off limits according
> to their church.  These kids have an aversion to science.
> Maybe this doesn't belong here, but what the heck.

Whether it belongs here or not (and I think it does) it is *frightening*.  Very
frightening.  The idea of a science fair should be to get children to do science
- presumably!!!  How did the kid count the angels, let alone work out if they
were dancing???  I am an Englishman working in the States, and of all the
thinks I have heard about the Church and the Religous Right trying to take over
the curiculum here, this is one of worst, to my mind.  If the Churches want to
get involved in such a blatant way, at least maybe the Minister could have
talked with the teacher and found some kind of middle ground that would let the
child do something that he could maybe get interested .... aaaah I spot the
flaw in my argument now .... the church doesn't want the kid to get interested
in Science!!!!  Its not the kids who have the aversion to science..... 

I'd better stop before I get too high on my horse   


(The views above are most definately *not* those of my employer.  Here at least
I am doing science in the name of a Saint: St Jude Children's Research Hospital)

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