Wednesday, March 15, 2006


The St. Brigid's Homeschooling Association had their Science Fair this past Sunday. They held it in the basement of the church. Since it was also Donut Sunday, I was there.

The projects were a pretty mixed bag. I think one kid intended to explain "genealogy." The family she chose was that of Therese Martin, known to the world as St. Therese of Lisuex. Since she and all her sisters became nuns, there was only one generation. Makes the project easier, I guess.

Another project was "Ice Fishing." No, really. A family took photos of their last ice fishing expedition. It listed the necessary equipment, including a drill to make a hole in he ice with, and their favorite lures.

You just don't see stuff like that on Long Island.

A girl came up with a display about the terracotta army from the tomb of Shi Huangdi, of the Qin dynasty. Money quote: "Shi Huangdi wanted China to become modern. He killed over 400 scholars to ensure modernization." Hm. Maybe he was onto something.

But the best project was the Potato Cannon. A couple of boys built a potato cannon, following instructions in "Backyard Ballistics." [You can find this homeschooling classic at]

After listing a few important rules ("Never look down the barrel!"), the boys gave their mission statement.

"Why We Chose This Project: we like to shoot stuff and watch things explode."

A scientist should have clear goals.


Des_Moines_Girl said...

"We like to shoot stuff and watch things explode."

Well...who doesn't? ;-)

Banshee said...

That emperor wasn't interested in modernism. He was interested in making everyone equally under his boot or dead. He didn't just kill scholars; he tried to eradicate every trace of religion and philosophy in China, replacing it all with his own "unique" ideas.

Unfortunately, thanks to our happy buddies over in Communist China deciding to rehabilitate his reputation, it's harder to find good information on the horror of his reign. (You can't just go to Wikipedia.) But just as you can't really praise Hitler for the Autobahn without remembering he killed millions, you can't remember the unifier of China without remembering that he was a deadly loon, and the Great Wall of China a mass grave created to his glory.

Kathy said...

My son built a potato cannon several years ago. The universal reaction to it--especially by adult males--is, "Can I have a turn?" As des moines girl noted, who doesn't like to shoot stuff and watch things explode?

djiboutikid said...

After first reading postings on a site called 'pudgetummies', which has since moved to a blog format, I knew I should look for somebody who actually represented what I believed in to read online. The women who post on pudgetummies are around my age, but a strict 180 degrees from my viewpoint. The hate the president and apparently most conservative viewpoints. I love coming to this site and reading generally intellectually stimulating viewpoints and replies from Sue and her readers. If this were a liberal site, we'd likely be reading about the need for a potato-gunners safety course. "...You'll shoot your eye out..." Maybe there is a video link to potato gun experiments somewhere? :)

Christine said...

I am going to have to look up the potato cannon for my seven year old daughter. She LOVES to shoot stuff and watch things explode. Sounds right up her alley!

emma said...

My daughter,9 yrs.old, had one that was unbeatable...she took her own teeth...sorry libs, but she still believes in the tooth fairy...the tooth fairy did compensate her for her contribution to science!...soaked one in Coke and one in H2O & the display was dazzling...great science, huh!?!

Ryan said...

As a scientist I often am asked to judge science fairs...we see a fair range of projects...though I have to say we look for a majority of the contribution from the student. I would rather see a student do a good project at their level (one student tried to determine from household ingredients what nutrients were present in the little packet they give you at flower shops...interesting) than the parents create a project beyond the level of the students.

As for the potato cannon at least the students were honest about their objectives---more than we can say for most in academia!