This coming week is the science fair at the school. I have been trying to keep my complaining to other people to a minimum, so if you have heard about it that means you were probably talking to me at a time that my stress was pretty high. Which was pretty much every day this past week between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. One of my students is researching if body temperature is raised when someone is placed under stress. They decided to take a bunch of students and give them math tests and recorded their body temperature. It turns out that indeed, body temperature is raised when placed under stress. It just makes me wonder what my average body temperature was this week.
Now school science fairs definitely have their positives and their negatives. I love that each of my students get to learn about something they’re interested in, not just what they’re forced to memorize. (As much as I try to make my classes interesting, I know there is a truth to that.) However, that is about where my appreciation for science fairs ends. I don’t like that students are forced to work in groups, because we can all remember how horrible that was. There’s always that one person who slacks off and does nothing, there’s one person who ends up doing everything, there’s one person who takes forever to do their part which causes stress to the other people in the group, there’s the person who does the bare minimum and refuses to take on any extra work because “It wasn’t assigned to them in the first place.” We all know the types. Then there’s the parents: The one who get frustrated that their student has to work outside of school, the one who refuses to let their kid go to another person’s house, the one who ends up doing the entire project for their student because they are the perfectionist. The list just goes on and on. And honestly, I can’t blame the kids. It is a lot of work to put in for a single day of presenting to the judges.
Yet here I am, planning something that no one really wants to do, all in the name of education. I wish there was a better way to do something like this but since it hasn’t been discovered yet, we all have to suffer through this process year after year. And don’t think that I’m not suffering too. If I never had to hear another “Miss Alyssa, can we change our project?” again I would be a happy person. I can now revise an entire display board in three minutes, I could probably spell the words “hypothesis,” “justification,” “procedure,” and “conclusion” out loud in my sleep, and I basically have the Webster’s Dictionary definition for abstract completely memorized word for word.
I got to thinking though. Since my world of the year is intentional, I asked myself “How can I be intentional in this? How can I use this project in a way to intentionally get to know my students more and help them learn not only science, but about life?” I can’t say that I made any novel discovery about planning a science fair, but I can say that my perspective definitely changed. My tasks went from something I had to do to something I was able to do to encourage my students to love science and learn about the world around them. And even if it didn’t change anything with how my students see the fair, it definitely changed how I see it. And as I’ve been learning lately, God is always only after my heart.
In all of this I have learned a lot. I have grown so much in my confidence of my Spanish. I have learned about the scientific process. I have learned when I can give a job to someone else and when I need to take it on myself. I have learned how to use my resources. And most of all I have learned about how I can be more supportive to my students and how I can help them learning a way that works for them. And I guess this is what really matters. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how well the project turned out. What really matters is how much my student’s learned. And that, as they say in Spanish, “vale la pena.”