Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Science Fair for Grown-ups

More than just paste and Tinkertoys™
  (+16, -1)(+16, -1)
(+16, -1)
  [vote for,

We all remember the Science Fair: running the educational gauntlet with whatever lame - or hopefully, halfbakedly clever - concept we could bring to light and experiment on for a cheap ribbon. At one time, the Science Fair was optional and only the more ambitious kids did it. Now it's obligatory and the average quality of the experiments has taken a dip. And we can always tell when Mom or Dad has "helped" just a little too much. Perhaps what those oldsters need is an outlet for their creativity.

To keep the playing field realistic, some rules need to be established: materials cost may not exceed $1000US. That prevents some rich bastard shopping everything out and winning on his bankroll.

You may not enter an experiment that is within your own field of professional expertise, so no homebrew neutrino detectors from the nuclear physicists. Nuclear physicists are perfectly welcome to enter their mouse genotyping projects, however. What we're trying to encourage is smart people with time on their hands to think about things they might not otherwise think about.

No more than one hundred adults may work on any one project. No, I'm not joking. However, the $1000 limit is per project, not per person.

The Science Fair requires a physical experiment and a physical result. One may not enter an experiment which exists only on paper or the Internet. Since entries via Internet should be permissable, photographic evidence is all that is required, but entries without evidence are DQed.

Experiments that pose risk to personal safety are scored differently from the rest: any injuries requiring more than a large (2"x2" gauze surface) bandage shall result in automatic disqualification of the experiment and a ban for ALL the entrants for a suitably lengthy period. Any damage to property or structures (or pets) shall be included as part of the material cost, so it pays to "point that thing away from the house!"

Extra points for using paste and Tinkertoys™!

elhigh, Oct 13 2006

Maker Faire http://www.makezine.com/faire/
Less restricted, but if you'd enjoy this, you'd probably enjoy that. [jutta, Oct 13 2006]

DorkBot Almost baked. Peopl...air-worthy projects
http://www.dorkbot.org [cowtamer, Oct 15 2006]


       Allowing entries over the Internet might allow people to circumvent the rule against serious injuries or expensive damage.   

       "Here's a photo of our project. That's all five of us there by our transcombobulator - yes, just five of us: no, there were never six of us working on this project, no matter what Ralph's family (God rest his soul) might have told you.   

       "Oh, and you might be wondering about my house in the background of the photo. It's been that way for years. We keep asking the landlord to come round and put a new roof on, but he hasn't got round to it yet."
imaginality, Oct 13 2006

       Love it! I never did the Science Fair thing as a kid.
Galbinus_Caeli, Oct 13 2006

       My kids are approaching science fair age. Must resist the temptation...must resist. +
Shz, Oct 13 2006

       The thing about science fairs is that the kids don't really learn anything. I once had this dreadful teacher who had all these science kits that we all assembled, but none of us really learned anything from them except given two 2-litre bottles and some weird straws with holes in them you can make this sort of fountain. The science behind it wasn't explained to us, so for all we knew the little fairies did it for us.   

       Fortunately I was never a participant in these science fairs because I attended schools that didn't hold them, mostly due to the lack of interest. However, if there were some good quality experiments going on with the logic, etc, fully explained behind it, I would support it whole-heartedly. Have an aroma-producing chemical reaction involving flour, water and most probably eggs (ie, [+]).
froglet, Oct 13 2006

       Yes, using the Net for entries opens the Fair up to fraud, but if you're picked for semifinals, then you're invited to show up in person for the annual judging event. If either you or your project can't make it, no cheap ribbon for you. And since we're dealing with grownups, we can reasonably expect comprehensive documentation of the reasoning, assembly, and execution of the entire project, including how and why the various people involved are involved. There will also be an intensive interview exploring what happened to Ralph.
elhigh, Oct 14 2006

       //It was very deflating, maddening, and I never entered another.//   

       So that's how you get mad scientists!
Veho, Oct 14 2006

       This idea, while it seems like it proffers the promise of fun for certain types, strikes fear into my poor non-analytical soul. I had to do three science fair projects in middle school. In sixth grade, I tried to prove that watching TV makes people stupid by counting how many words they uttered before, during, or after a (yes: one, single, not more than a) viewing of "The Lorax." I drew a very nice rendition of the Lorax for the science fair board. In seventh grade I was testing the best food for venus fly traps. The experiment took place in winter, so I had to chop up meal worms from a bait shop and pry months-old flies from one of those curly fly paper things in the kitchen. Just writing "meal worms" made me shudder--honestly. In eighth grade, my agar wouldn't gel, and I procrastinated so long in getting new agar that I had to make up results for my in-class presentation (before the actual science fair). I was so guilt-stricken that I submitted a tearful apology in writing (tear-stains left on for effect) to my science teacher. I would have had to fess up sooner or later, since the actual results did not exactly bring me to my fake conclusions. All this to say, I really, really don't want to have the option open to me again. But I won't vote against it, because I know that some people would love it. Poor crazy dears!
Twenty Dollar Duck, Oct 14 2006

       3rd grade science fair project was all about how magnetic flux was reduced through different types of media. A shop tool-magnet of the long bar type, some various samples of materials nailed to it, a paper clip, and some welding wire to suspend the paper clip to it. Blue ribbon.   

       4th grade science fair project was about how and why a floating helium balloon would move forwards when placed inside a box with a plexiglass hole in it that was given a shove, instead of appearing to move rearwards from the perspective of the box. Blue ribbon and an invitation to regional competition.   

       5th grade science fair project was trying to explain the theory behind solar cells. It was a dismal failure. Yellow ribbon.   

       6th grade project was an attempt of measurement of how much oxygen a measured amount of algae would produce in a day. Algae sample was collected inside a test tube which was turned up-side-down inside a vat of water. I had assumed that the O2 produced would naturally be a gas, which later turned out to be wrong.
RayfordSteele, Jan 11 2011


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