Tyler participated in the science fair at his school and won first place! He chose to do his project on electrolysis. For those like me who had no clue what that is, it is the process of seperating the hydrogen and oxygen molecules of water. The molecules are then in the gaseous form. When this project first began, Tyler told me he wanted to MAKE water. I just chuckled and said I had no clue how to go about doing that since I knew you can't just take pure oxygen and pure hydrogen and put them together and come up with water. BESIDES, a bunch of pure hydrogen is very dangerous- explosive, and I didn't know how to get any of it at a store.
Now, Helium is a different story. I asked him if he didn't want to switch his project to something a little more easier (for my sake). Good grief this kid is in fifth grade! No, no. He was sure this is what he wanted to do. He then got on the internet and found quite a bit of information. Now, I'm just thinking that he's going to try to get hydrogen and there is going to be a big explosion! As the time drew near for the science experiment, Tyler still hadn't actually worked on his project. We had decided after a couple of months that making water wasn't going to be practical right now, but maybe he could just seperate the molecules of oxygen and hydrogen and basicly turn it into a gas. Ryan and I kept reminding Tyler that he could start gathering the items for the experiment and taking the pictures. Then we could work on the display posterboard. He kept putting it off and saying that no, he had plenty of time. Ryan and I wanted to let Tyler take the initiative to start putting the project together and figured that since it was required to enter the fair, the worst that could happen is that Tyler would put it together at the last minute and not do as good as he could have. It's better to let kids try and fall when then they are young, then to always hover and do the work for them, only to have them fail on big projects later when we're not around. That way they learn from their mistakes at an earlier age and get the satisfaction of figuring life out earlier.
Soooooo, the day or two before the project was due, Tyler finally felt it was time to get rolling on his project. Being this late in the game meant a couple of quick trips to the store for supplies and then learning the hard way that THINGS DON'T ALWAYS WORK THE FIRST TIME AROUND!!! Luckily we had Aunt Katherine around who knew more about molecules and metal and electricity than I did. My husband Ryan was busy with his two jobs and could only help some. In order to get the molecules to seperate, we had to get a big battery, hook it up to a wire and put the wire under water with a glass container on top. The electricity running through the wires would seperate the molecules and they would collect at the top of the inverted glass jar. Now this just sounds great but it didn't work the first time around because we used distilled water. That didn't have enough salt and minerals in it so we used tap water and I can't remember what else didn't work.
Finally, it all came together. Then, Tyler and I needed to make his poster board- at about 8 pm the night before it was due! We frantically printed out his pictures, and made the other parts of his display. REMINDER: I had NEVER put together a science fair project in my life before then, and had to keep looking back at the rules etc. I only guessed at how the posterboard was supposed to look. So at 11 pm we went to bed. The next morning we quickly glued the parts in the correct places and off he went to school. Now, first place was great, but Tyler wanted to get the Grand Prize which was given to one project in each classroom. That meant you could go on to the District Science Fair.
When Tyler got to school that night after the judging, he was disappointed that he didn't get the Grand Prize. He told me that after looking at others posters, he knew what he should have done. He also said he wished he had started working sooner on the project and that he could have then won Grand Prize. Ahhhh, it's hard letting your kids fail a little in order for them to learn the big picture. But he didn't really fail- first prize is awesome for your first science fair! That night he kept saying how he was going to start tommorow on next years science fair so he could win and go on to the nationals and get a scholarship! Wow, what enthusiasim!
A couple of days later, he was asking me if he could ask the school if they would accept a certain chemical to be used in the science fair. I didn't think much about it and said yes, he could ask the school. Before he went to school, I saw some papers that he printed out and I my heart started racing- it was about cyanide! That is very poisonous. I asked him if this was the chemical that he was going to ask about at school. He said it was! I asked him what it was going to be for and he told me he was going to use it for electroplateing! Needless to say I informed him that they would never allow cyanide in elementary school. I'm not sure at this point what his project will be for next year but stay tuned! (Watch out world!)