Science Fair Study Guide

“Science Fair” by Trout Fishing in America describes an unusual science fair:

Harry brought a hurricane, trapped in a terrarium.
Ruth made a working model of a nuclear reactor.
There was a cure for the common cold.
Someone cloned his little brother and if the truth be told.
It was the finest, fanciest Science Fair anybody’s ever seen.
It was the finest, fanciest Science Fair anybody’s dreamed of.

Bobby built a baseball with an automatic pilot.
Terri took a tonic, grew herself a beard.
Jill found a way to turn garbage into chocolate.
Tommy came to class in a homemade rocket.
It was the finest, fanciest Science Fair anybody’s ever seen.
It was the finest, fanciest Science Fair anybody’s dreamed of.

We thought Elizabeth was absent, she made herself invisible.
Bubba tied helium balloons to a lawn chair,
Someone called the principal.
There was an old red hen that played tic-tac-toe,
A robot could beat you at dominoes.
It was the finest, fanciest Science Fair anybody’s ever seen.
It was the finest, fanciest Science Fair anybody’s dreamed of.

Well, my project was called HOW THINGS BURN. They put it in
the back in a dark corner of the room. On a poster, I taped some
stuff I found around the house, and then next to it, what it looked
like when it was all burned up, with a brief, descriptive paragraph
of how bad it smelled while it was burning up. Cat hair smelled
the worst!

It was the finest, fanciest Science Fair anybody’s ever seen.
It was the finest, fanciest Science Fair anybody’s dreamed of.

Objectives:

  • Students will identify various disciplines within the sciences.
  • Students will distinguish between real and fantastic ideas about science.
  • Students will conduct and report on internet research.

Materials:

Procedure:

  • Watch and listen to the song.
  • Hand out copies of the lyrics.
  • Have students work in groups to list all the science fair projects described. They should find the following projects:
    • a hurricane in a terrarium
    • nuclear reactor
    • cure for the common cold
    • human cloning
    • baseball with automatic pilot
    • beard-growing tonic
    • turning garbage into chocolate
    • rocket
    • invisibility
    • helium balloon lawn chair
    • chicken playing tic-tac-toe
    • robot playing dominoes
    • evaluation of smells of burning materials
  • Once all the projects are identified, divide them up among the groups. For each project, have students determine
    • what branch of science would try it
    • whether it could, with current or plausible technology, be accomplished

So, for example, a rocket can certainly be produced, and aerospace engineers would be the most likely ones to do it. Physicists might be another group that would work on such experiments. Students might take this example further and identify the most likely way to succeed with a homemade rocket. Invisibility is not currently practical, but nanotechnologists are working on it and there are plausible ways that it could be accomplished. Beard growing potions, on the other hand, aren’t realistic now or in the foreseeable future, though trichology, the branch of medicine dealing with hair, is working on that, too.

  • Complete the lesson by having each group present their results to the class.
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