"Garlic: The Silent Killer," "Juicy Beans," and 39 other fascinating projects of SCIENCE!
February 20, 2008 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Crystal Meth: Friend or Foe High school science project alchemy: dumb shit into comedy gold.
posted by Hat Maui (103 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I bet that "The Wii Workout" will be a peer-reviewed scientific paper within the next 18 months. If it isn't already.

They might use a more obscure title.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:53 PM on February 20, 2008

I will say this: I was a professional scientist, who wrote a few very good papers based on my research and published them in very good journals.

If you could have seen my science fair projects you would have laughed at the lame-in-osity. They were pathetic.

Lame-in-osity is a scientific word.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:56 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Boy, kids sure are stupid!
posted by redhanrahan at 7:59 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

The kid in the last one has a great gangsta lean; he just needs to be holding his collar up.

And I hope he got points for using notebook paper and packing tape.

>Boy, kids sure are stupid!

And funny looking!
posted by blastrid at 8:02 PM on February 20, 2008

>>Boy, kids sure are stupid!

>And funny looking!

And lame!
posted by oddman at 8:04 PM on February 20, 2008

That was the coolest thing ever. The sweater I mean.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:06 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

Garlic: The Silent Killer

posted by danb at 8:08 PM on February 20, 2008 [11 favorites]

Hilarious, reminded me of the horrible science fair projects of my peers...
posted by schyler523 at 8:13 PM on February 20, 2008

>>>Boy, kids sure are stupid!

>>And funny looking!

>And lame!

And stupid!

No, wait....
posted by pompomtom at 8:15 PM on February 20, 2008

What the fuck is RYSTAL MET?
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:18 PM on February 20, 2008

I feel bad for the Electro Worms kid. He looks so disillusioned. "Hypothesis: WORMS CAN CONDUCT ELECTRICITY" "Finding: not exactly"
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:19 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

Really these aren't all that bad. It's actually pretty hard to come up with things to research (at least for me), and I always had trouble coming up with science fair ideas. I don't really like the "Haha, look at how stupid and unoriginal little kids are" aspect of this but I guess if I wanted to be charitable, I could view it instead as "Kids science the darnedest things".

I had a lot of really lame science fair ideas that were put together at the last minute because I could never think of anything good.

Then there was the time I tried to do a coilgun. This was in junior year of high school, and there were so many reasons it was doomed to fail. For one, we didn't have hundreds of dollars to spend on huge capacitors. What's worse than that, though, was that we tried to do it without them. We had never taken any kind of magnetism course, and our research didn't turn up any kind of work that made sense to our pre-calculus brains (see, e.g., Maxwell's equations), so we did what you do when you don't know what to do. We bought a bunch of magnet wire at Fry's Electronics, wrapped it around some giant iron rods by hand, and hooked up the wire to a power supply we pulled out of a computer. As you can imagine, this device did next to nothing. It did actually manage to pull the ball -which was about 3/4" in diameter, way bigger than anything you see on coilguns that work- up to to the magnet, but that was about it.

I still remember having a lot of fun working on that project, though, and when I finally did take E & M, it had a lot more relevance to me as I began to understand the kind of power we would have needed to do what we were trying to do. So yeah, you could see me standing in one of these pictures with this retarded-looking, non-functional coilgun, and laugh at what an idiot I was, but that's really besides the point.
posted by !Jim at 8:26 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

We seem to have an epidemic of bad posture in this country.
posted by PhatLobley at 8:27 PM on February 20, 2008

Boy, kids sure are stupid!

"Haha, look at how stupid and unoriginal little kids are" aspect of this

FWIW, that wasn't really my intent. i found it funny because kids are funny. i guess the "dumb shit into comedy gold" post framing implied that i think the kids are stupid, but that's not the case. i just wanted to incorporate "alchemy" in there, because, well, SCIENCE!
posted by Hat Maui at 8:32 PM on February 20, 2008

I like the Plants and Pop kid. He knows he'll probably never be quite so correct about anything ever again, and he is absolutely correct here. Those are most definitely plants and that? Hot damn. That is pop. That's for damn sure.
posted by katillathehun at 8:32 PM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

My friends made a functional coilgun as high school physics project using some soda can-sized capacitors and a transformer from a neon sign. It fired a nail (sans head) at potentially-lethal speeds, and their genius teacher let them fire it inside the classroom as a demonstration. An odd ricochet sent the nail exactly in the direction where the teacher had been standing prior to saying "For safety's sake, I'm going to move behind this thing" and stepping a few feet to the side.
posted by 0xFCAF at 8:33 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

It's getting late and I want to thank you, Hat Maul, for some tear-inducing giggles. As kittensforbreakfast noted, the look on Electroworms kid's face is awesome in its dejectedness. Then there's the unbridled suspicion of the "tour guide" on the right.

I have renewed belief that children are the proper subjects of our unselfconscious laughter.
posted by mistersquid at 8:38 PM on February 20, 2008

>>Boy, kids sure are stupid!

>>And funny looking!

>And lame!

And fat!

When did middle school kids all get that heavy?
posted by fshgrl at 8:42 PM on February 20, 2008

Oh, and these kids are total amateurs, I just wanted to say. When I was a kid, I witnessed the full potential of baking soda and vinegar, and I harnessed that power into a force normally reserved for nature and God Himself. I created with my own two 12-year-old hands... a volcano. YES. On that day in 1992, a man-made volcano sat RIGHT THERE on a Kansas folding table! You never saw such a sight! And you never will again because it was an ORIGINAL.

My childhood was a little disappointing.
posted by katillathehun at 8:45 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh this is great.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:48 PM on February 20, 2008

Scoffers. You shall learn.

posted by Astro Zombie at 8:49 PM on February 20, 2008 [20 favorites]

That was the coolest thing ever. The sweater I mean.

Yeah, that's about the best sweater I've ever seen.
Man, I want one.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:50 PM on February 20, 2008

The Ideal Pancreas: Part II

Some of us haven't seen Part I, you know. Maybe a spoilers tag?

Now all the suspense is gone.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:52 PM on February 20, 2008 [7 favorites]

Who's Your Daddy?

And the suspense returns!
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:53 PM on February 20, 2008

But is it crystal meth in a can?
posted by patr1ck at 8:56 PM on February 20, 2008

I created with my own two 12-year-old hands... a volcano.

That's nothing. You should have seen my scale* model of the solar system made with Styrofoam and coat hangers.

* not to scale
posted by danb at 8:59 PM on February 20, 2008

When did middle school kids all get that heavy?

I smell Science Fair first prize material!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2008 [5 favorites]

I also like the plants and pop kid. Of all the projects, that seems the one most probably giving valid results, assuming I'm correct on what it's about. Now, I'd like to know which of the plants had the pop.
posted by Anything at 9:04 PM on February 20, 2008

needs more POP THAT CORN (a 4chan favorite)
posted by zenzizi at 9:11 PM on February 20, 2008

Kid, take an E.
posted by caddis at 9:15 PM on February 20, 2008

The Code of the Meniscus! That torrid law - wetness clinging, cleaving, climbing the inside lip of the scientific vessel, or presenting itself nudely upward in quivering tumescence, each state controlled only at your will, oh Colin, you wild wizard! Only you could study the code and not succumb to its molecular allure! You needn't be told where my fealty lies, Colin. I swore to the code long ago. But I was never so overwhelmingly meniscal as this. Not till your work moved me. You've done science on my soul.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:17 PM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

Pantheistic solipsism
posted by caddis at 9:17 PM on February 20, 2008 [6 favorites]

Plants and Pop - Kid, give me your lunch money or die right here in the hallway (damn, this is good weed).
posted by caddis at 9:25 PM on February 20, 2008

Garlic: The Silent Killer

Some think "silent, but deadly." I say "silent, but merely violent."
posted by middleclasstool at 9:30 PM on February 20, 2008

uggghh, i feel like i need a shower...

and some topical 5% benzoyl peroxide

and some orthodontic work

and a hot pocket??


that said, i liked the shady a/v nerd kiddies with the website/science projects and their dim futures as faux-russian black hat google adsense exploiters, LOL!
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 9:30 PM on February 20, 2008

Some of these seem quite creative and inventive (well, maybe not "Plants and Pop"). I see future marketing conference booth designers in "The Right Wipe" gals. I like the white lab coats in "Extreme Wood". Presentation--it's all about presentation.

And how much did the kid scientist behind the "Do Video Games Affect You?" pay the poster child of his research to stand there?
posted by eye of newt at 9:32 PM on February 20, 2008

On second thought what the "Plants and Pop" lacks in presentation, is clearly made up for with clearly presented evidence.
posted by eye of newt at 9:35 PM on February 20, 2008

>>>Boy, kids sure are stupid!
>>>And funny looking!
>>And lame!
>And fat!

Once in the fifth grade I made it to the regional Science Fair, which was hosted at another school. I can't remember if it was my awesome kinetic energy project or my impressive exploration of the atom, by regardless, I was beat by a pair of mouthbreathers who're probably the proud parents of at least thirteen of these kids. Their amazing project?


I watched from across the aisle as they plied the judges with nauseating pieces of melted Kit-Kat and Chunkie bars, the chocolate debossed with their grimy fingerprints. The judges were teachers at the host school. The kids were students at the host school. They won. I lost.
And that was the day I stopped trying.
And that is why my greatest achievement in science is successfully copying an upside-down Punnett Square off the final exam of the uncooperative girl I was sharing a table with in the tenth grade, and that is why I will laugh at these stupid, funny-looking, lame, and fat children.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:38 PM on February 20, 2008 [8 favorites]

but moon babies was HILARIOUS as i have absolutely no idea what it could possibly be about, and the right wipe was like a high school version of a klaxons video or something.

OKAY, this is off topic, slightly, but i was talking with some people earlier today...

Whats with this whole american cultural nostalgia for high school? Why are teens romanticized in such a way (TV and personal reminiscence...), and that whole age supposedly wrought with epic pent-up sexuality, idolized by "us" well into our adulthood (speculation on my part)? Who actually feels like prom and "the big game" is the pinnacle achievement of their existence? Only like 80% of people i asked... do they remember how OOKY and GROSS they all looked in high school? Look at this list! These pictures! Who but some nambla freak or zit fetishist could covet THAT!?

posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 9:41 PM on February 20, 2008

That last kid is 6 months tops from trading that last p for a t.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:43 PM on February 20, 2008

And that was the day I stopped trying.

Alvy, it is that type of experience I hope to help my children anticipate, so that they laugh and mock such people rather than giving up hope. Thanks for the reminder that I need to stay diligent!
posted by davejay at 9:47 PM on February 20, 2008

*Adds 'Cautionary Example' to CV*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:01 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

yeah, or the "cautionary whale" of juno.
posted by Hat Maui at 10:10 PM on February 20, 2008

The best I science project I've ever come across was "How long can my goldfish survive without food?"

I just stared at it. I couldn't believe it passed the third grade ethics board.
posted by JimmyJames at 10:11 PM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

When I was in fourth grade, my Science Fair project was The Power of the Pyramids. Because back in the '70's, for a brief moment, it was believed by some that anything entombed in a pyramid (even a super-cheap 6" plastic one) would remain! miraculously! unchanged! by some unchallenged scientific principle. I don't know how I came to this dismal project, but I'm guessing it had something to do with all the Unsolved Mysteries shows and Erik Von Daniken books I was consuming at the time. Anyway, after a month and a half of watching razors rust away despite the wisdom of the pharoahs, I came to the really depressing realization that 1) science sometimes exists to prove things are wrong, 2) some adults won't care what science proves, and most importantly, 3) there are adults who will happily make money off desperate 4th graders as long as they can turn a buck for their New Age tchotchke shops. I got a C- on the project, but it taught me a helluva lot more than a baking soda volcano ever would.
posted by maryh at 10:15 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

Photos of dorky kids + titles copied directly from photos = comedy gold?

Obviously I've been overthinking my FPPs...
posted by Pinback at 10:16 PM on February 20, 2008

also, i'm nthing the sweater. Fucking Brilliant.
posted by JimmyJames at 10:17 PM on February 20, 2008

2) some adults won't care what science proves

Some of them are even scientists.
posted by fshgrl at 10:28 PM on February 20, 2008

My junior high science fair project was about wood, too. Who knew it was such a popular topic?
posted by jal0021 at 10:35 PM on February 20, 2008

What the fuck is RYSTAL MET?

Same thing as regular crystal meth, but missing a hydrocarbon.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:36 PM on February 20, 2008 [27 favorites]

Eh, these all look photoshopped.
posted by peppito at 10:53 PM on February 20, 2008

My sole experience with Science Fairdom was a volcano made out of paper mache and baking soda and vinegar and when it erupted it wiped out a little village I built at the foot of the mountain.

I don't think I even took it to the science fair, I just liked wiping out the little village over and over again. Kids these days, my god.
posted by cmonkey at 11:11 PM on February 20, 2008

We didn't have science fairs when I was your age. We smeared cheese and peanut butter on paper towels to check for fat content and we fondled mercury with our bare hands and we liked it!

Oh my god.

But in grade seven, the shopping mall across the street from my school finished its expansion and for some reason we had our classes in the concourse above the food fair for a while. Mostly it was band and art and other stuff designed to charm The Old Folks into thinking that a mall that size needed two bookstores, but science class that year was all about the development of chicks (from chicken eggs, pervo). We had an incubator and every week we'd go and crack open these eggs long before their time and document the development of the embryos.

The psychological scars are with me to this day, I shit you not.

At any rate, I call awesome on ELECTRO WORMS kid. His heart was in the right place, you bastards.
posted by melodie at 11:37 PM on February 20, 2008

This is an awesome trove.
posted by not_on_display at 11:42 PM on February 20, 2008

I officially hand over America to whomever wants it.
posted by sourwookie at 12:05 AM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

we fondled mercury with our bare hands

man, i remember taking mercuric oxide, putting it in a test tube and then putting that over a bunsen burner so as to extract the mercury. no ventilation whatsoever, and then we played with the mercury, all at the instruction of our beloved teacher. this was in sixth grade.

posted by Hat Maui at 12:14 AM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ugh. Too many traumatic memories. I can't make it to the bottom of the page. Damn you, Miss Stolz!!! You warped my soul!!
posted by chillmost at 12:42 AM on February 21, 2008

Some of these look like they could be good school science projects.
posted by grouse at 1:50 AM on February 21, 2008

OK, this has inspired me to redouble my efforts to convince my 4th grader that his scifair project about reflectivity and paint colors that he's been slaving over all week should be entitled something other than "Black is hot, baby!"

Also, remind me to cancel Cinemax.
posted by jamaro at 2:16 AM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Two words, cats and kittens...



That is all.
posted by Samizdata at 2:30 AM on February 21, 2008

The one science fair I ever did, I did electroplating.

Now, times were a little different back then; this would have been about 1980. I visited a local electroplating shop and asked them how to do it.

They loaded me up, a 15 year old boy, with seveal bags of chemicals for the solution. These chemicals, they told me, were so incredibly toxic that even a small amount, anywhere on my skin, could kill me. I don't know if this was literally true or not, but in my somewhat faded memory, they were kind of matter-of-fact about this, not hyperbolic like you'd expect. It was sort of, "oh, by the way, this shit can kill you, so wear gloves and be careful." And I was surprised, and asked them if that was really true, and they said, "yeah, so don't get ANY on your skin at all." I had the feeling then, and I have the feeling now, that they were being literally truthful... and they let me have the chemicals anyway, and off I went with several bags of potassium solution of some kind.

I did copper electroplating, which was really pretty cool. I just cleaned up some pennies and used those; unlike today's pennies, they were copper all the way through, and were a great source of the metal. And I made, in a few mason jars connected with a few pieces of thick wire, sitting on a dusty-but-working chest freezer in a largely disused garage, some really remarkably beautiful platings; one was a thin bracelet of some kind, and it took the copper wonderfully and looked just fabulous. But I presented things very poorly, with a badly written notebook and rather crummy-looking equipment, so I won for technical merit, but, overall, lost badly to the typical baking-soda volcanoes.

I wish I'd thought of taking pictures; I had no idea at the time that it would ever be unusual for a teenager to be given lethal chemicals, for free, just by asking.

And, of course, it's possible they fooled me about the lethality... but they just seemed kind of bored and not very interested, so they didn't have much fun with the joke if it was one. :)

(I think I ended up returning what I didn't use, but I don't remember for sure.)
posted by Malor at 2:50 AM on February 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

I just looked it up on wikipedia:

Many plating baths include cyanides of other metals (e.g., potassium cyanide) in addition to cyanides of the metal to be deposited. These free cyanides facilitate anode corrosion, help to maintain a constant metal ion level and contribute to conductivity. Additionally, non-metal chemicals such as carbonates and phosphates may be added to increase conductivity.

I think it's entirely possible that they gave two good-sized bags of potassium cyanide. Oh my god. :)
posted by Malor at 2:54 AM on February 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

Just look at those enthusiastic youngsters!

Can you feel the envy of the rest of the world, America? Can you?
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:07 AM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I first saw this, I thought we were supposed to laugh at science projects promoting Creationism and disputing global warming. Instead, apparently, we're supposed to laugh at the fatties and the pimpleheads. My bad. Carry on with the LOLHISKOOLZ...
posted by spoobnooble at 4:27 AM on February 21, 2008

Note that the Fashion SWAT articles linked upthread are a million times funnier than the photos on their own.

posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:21 AM on February 21, 2008

Perhaps my favorite high school science project, right in my very school, was "BREAD MOLD." Just a simple white board with a single slice of bread nailed to it. To one side, another nail held little tags, incremented each morning, "Day 4," "Day 5," and so forth. No other identifying marks could be seen. The bookcase on which it stood, also white, began collecting a green dusting of spores.

One morning the project simply disappeared. Marvel at the hard work that went into that scientific endeavor.
posted by adipocere at 5:29 AM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

we're supposed to laugh at the fatties and the pimpleheads

I think I speak for everybody when I say we're mostly laughing at "Eww, It's All Over Us!!" and "That Will Leave a Stain!"
posted by uncleozzy at 5:52 AM on February 21, 2008

The other day in the craft store I saw a kit that had 10 styrofoam balls* of proportional sizes so kids can paint them to make a solar system for the science fair.
When I was a kid we had to find our own properly sized balls (uphill! in the snow!). Now they make things too easy and this is the inevitable result.

*and one styrofoam ring, natch
posted by pointystick at 5:56 AM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

When did middle school kids all get that heavy?

posted by Greg Nog at 5:59 AM on February 21, 2008

When did middle school kids all get that heavy?

Because of the line after the last picture that says "If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to our feed!"
posted by lukemeister at 6:13 AM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

In middle school, thanks to the help of my scientist father, I had a science fair experiment called "Don't Press That Button!" It consisted of two boxes, each with a button on it, both with signs saying not to press them. The Control button would do nothing. The Experiment button would shock the person pressing it. I'd sit across from the display with a clipboard marking down the number of times the buttons were pushed.

As may not surprise anyone, both buttons were pressed a lot, with the electrified one being pressed much more after word of its nature got out. It was a pretty chinzy project, but it did get me out of class a lot as I had to go sit and observe data.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:49 AM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

If this were actually one science fair, and you were a judge, which would you award?

I think I'd go with "What my dog's favorite color?" Kid's probably got a hypothesis, an experimental method, repeated measures, and a firm conclusion. That's a science fair project.
posted by rlk at 6:52 AM on February 21, 2008

Goddammit, when I did a science fair project, there was electrophoresis involved! Autoclaves! Bacterial cultures! Protein analysis! Buying time on the mainframe so I could get my charts done on a proper plotter!

...grumble, grumble...

The only thing that sucks more than being a young nerd, is being an old nerd.
posted by aramaic at 7:12 AM on February 21, 2008

One morning the project simply disappeared. Marvel at the hard work that went into that scientific endeavor.

I personally blame big oil for stifiling that kind of research.
posted by Deep Dish at 7:15 AM on February 21, 2008

I wonder if any of the judges called that 'Delerium Tremens' kid on the fact that there are two bottles missing from his table.

Thumbs-up indeed.
posted by Pecinpah at 7:43 AM on February 21, 2008

I would award the prize to the CRYSTAL METH kid if he conducted experimental work.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:48 AM on February 21, 2008

Is this something every American kid has to do? I ask because I've seen it in countless films/TV etc, yet I can't think of anything even vaguely similar from my (UK) school days.
posted by salmacis at 7:49 AM on February 21, 2008

Electro Worms kid succinctly expresses everything there is to know about my own science fair ordeals. Great post.
posted by everichon at 8:23 AM on February 21, 2008

Yeah, probably most American kids have to do this at one time or another. I can still remember most of my science fair experiments:

6th grade - stuck thermometers in glasses of water sitting in the sun. One of them had red food coloring, so it absorbed more heat and got hotter. This shared first place.

7th grade - can't remember. Not sure I had to do one.

8th grade - this was straight out of World Book Encyclopedia: float a button on the surface tension of a glass of water. Then add drops of liquid detergent until the surfactant breaks enough surface tension for the button to fall. I then normalized those results by the grocery store cost of the detergent to find out which gives you the most bang for you buck. This won first place at regionals; I don't think there was a state level competition for junior high kids. But we had enough dish soap to last two years.

9th grade - short term vs. long term memory. I gave people a 7 digit phone number to memorize, then asked half of them to repeat it back to me in 30 seconds. The other half had to give it back to me in a week. I faked every bit of this data and of course didn't win crap. I saw two kids making fun of my hand drawn basketball scoreboard on my display board and felt like crap.

10th grade - The effect of caffeine on crickets. I went to the bait shop and bought a bunch of crickets and a couple of those wire cricket containers. And then I crushed up some no doze and put it in water in an upside down jar lid in one conatainer. The other was just water. I think I was planning to count how fast or how long they would chirp. Turns out there was no difference, but the crickets with caffeine all died sooner. So I reported this, came up with a way of quantifying it and got a bit of praise from the one judge who was a real life epidemiologist with the med school. I think this got honorable mention. Of course this experiment was done in the middle of winter, and the crickets were kept *inside our house.* Yep, this was when my parents actually almost killed me.

11th grade - Some crap with solar cells, a flashlight, and a fresnel lens. It was pretty worthless, but I didn't care. At this point, it was clear that the kids who were going to win science fair were the ones whose parents were scientists. They were doing stuff on aromatic hydrocarbons...everyone doing garage science didn't stand a chance. Of course they weren't actually designing the experiment, or carrying it out, or analyzing the data, but still.

12th grade - Didn't have to do it. As an incentive to get more kids into AP science classes, they waived the science fair requirement for those classes. So I was in AP Chem and AP Physics and didn't have to do it, thank god.

There was such an art to falsifying your log book (different pens/pencils! coffee stains!) and data. And we put a lot of time into the display board. Style over substance. And this was a big part of our grades in the science classes. I loved science but hated science fair.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 8:29 AM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wonder if any of the judges called that 'Delerium Tremens' kid on the fact that there are two bottles missing from his table.

I found one here. Delicious I might add.

The parents of these children should be ashamed of the projects they did for their kids.
posted by srboisvert at 8:47 AM on February 21, 2008

Those kids with the "Global Warming? Yeah, Right!" project are geniuses. Sure, they'll lose the stupid science fair, but they're shoo-ins for the Taxpayers' League Scholarship of SCIENCE!
posted by nicepersonality at 8:52 AM on February 21, 2008

Wait, seriously, these are all photoshopped, right? It says the DTs one is, but the rest are too, aren't they? I never had a highschool science fair so I mean this question sincerely -- kids don't really do stuff like "Eeew It's All Over Us", do they? If they do, good on them because it's hilarious, but, well, do they?

For that matter, note the blue ribbon on the side of "Garlic: The Silent Killer". Lad, I don't know where you been, but I see you won first prize.
posted by The Bellman at 9:03 AM on February 21, 2008

posted by hellbient at 9:05 AM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't really understand what's going on here - the kids do an experiment then write the results on a board? That's it? My inner schoolboy is wondering why would anyone bother with the 'do an experiment' stage.

Still, that was one hell of a jumper.
posted by jack_mo at 9:19 AM on February 21, 2008

OK, OK, I'll be the first to bite. What is all over us?
posted by googly at 9:40 AM on February 21, 2008

I only remember doing one science fair project, but I still think it was pretty cool in an "it's-fun-to-mess-with-people" kind of way. I took a carton of vanilla ice cream and divided it into thirds. One batch got mixed with pink food coloring, one batch got brown food coloring and the third was left alone. I asked my victims to sample each bowl, and then asked them what flavors of ice cream they had eaten. Almost without fail, they identified the pink as strawberry and the brown as chocolate, identifications they did not make when I asked them to taste the ice cream a second time while blindfolded. People are weird.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:40 AM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

@Quaalude: My theory is that the nostalgia exists in our media because it's a common experience shared in our nation. High school is available publicly almost everywhere in the US, and dropping out is frowned upon in our culture, even if one does not have academic goals. Thus, for script writers and other people generally trying to associate with strangers, high school is a good time to talk about. It also helps that high school is, of all the public school years, the one where people are most adult (relatively speaking).

This may extend past cultures into other industrialized nations. I don't mean to sound like a huge nerd right now, but one of my favorite animes, Azumanga Daioh, is about high school and IIRC, it was hugely successful in Japan.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:20 AM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

This post reminded me of being that young scientist-in-training, having to stand in front of posters of data... and of that feeling of waiting there, for judges, teachers and peers to eyeball our work, or choose to pass us over...

and then I compared this to now as an adult-scientist-for-real, how we all STILL go to conferences, stand in front of our data posters, waiting to be judged in some sense or another, or that awkward moment when people are decidng to read your work and talk to you, or cruise by .... Oh, I dunno, my brain just exploded a little. And I feel very very innately and intrinsically dorky.
posted by NikitaNikita at 10:23 AM on February 21, 2008

I've been a science fair judge several times, and the projects on this page look like they might be pretty good, actually ("Fat Man To Mars" and "Garlic The Silent Killer" look like a lot of work went into them).

I've seen much, much worse at school fairs:
-Several versions of "Which Cookie Tastes Best?" Setup: students have their classmates eat cookies and report back which one they liked best. Result: everyone likes Oreo's.
-"Rotten Bananas" Setup: one banana kept on kitchen counter, one put in freezer, one left outside for a week in January. Conclusion: bananas should be kept in the freezer because if you leave them at room temperature for two weeks they rot. (The fair was held in March. The kid not only showed me pictures of the bananas that he took in January, but also brought the original, now three months old, rotten banana, shriveled to a scary black crescent.)
-A comparison of leg shaving techniques. Setup: a fourteen year old girl removed her leg hair for the very first time using three different methods: One leg with Nair, half of the second leg with wax, and the remaining half with a razor. Conclusion: wax hurts, shaving cuts your leg.

You try judging that without laughing. I'd be relieved if I had to look at electroworms or crystal meth.
posted by easternblot at 1:03 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

I want to know more about all these experiments. Namely, how will garlic silently kill me and what are Moon babies and how can they can help me in my daily life?
posted by Hugonaut at 1:21 PM on February 21, 2008

easternblot, what were her conclusions on Nair?
posted by Hugonaut at 1:54 PM on February 21, 2008

I officially hand over America to whomever wants it.
These kids appear to be Canadian, but thanks, I'll take it.
posted by baklavabaklava at 2:38 PM on February 21, 2008

God, this brings back memories.

Sixth grade: Our class's theme was "collections," and I really thought doing a bug collection would be cool. I got way into killing the insects with a faint waft of rubbing alcohol, and enjoyed pinning them down. But a combination of my lack of breadth (you only need so many crickets to establish what a dead cricket looks like), and my mom's freaking out and pitching the foamcore that I'd stuck everything to meant that I ended up trying to make a credible display for a "seed collection" the night before the project was due. I remember going to my dad's office and trying to sort all these goddamned seeds from the kitchen into little baggies. Oddly enough, I didn't realize that my mother smoked pot then.

Seventh grade: God only knows. I have absolutely no memories that I can tie to seventh grade, aside from Erin O'Brien being caught with vodka in her thermos.

Eight grade: "HOAXES!" In an elaborate act of fakery, I examined the Weekly World News, did a modicum of research to dispute their allegations, then made up a couple of hoaxes and "debunked" them. During my presentation, my pals Terry and Adrian were holding my posterboard behind me while I took questions. Antonia Patako, a chubby girl who tended to dress in purple stretch sweatsuits with glitter appliqué, and who gasped for breath between words like a landed fish (her piggish nose twitching beneath coke-bottle glasses) raised her hand. I called on her, and she said, "I've seen a goat boy at a fair! Goat boys are REAL!" I'm not quite sure what to say, and then I hear my poster crash to the ground as Terry doubles over with laughter. To this day, I feel bad about the abuse that girl got, despite the fact that she was kind of a prig—far more of it was because she was a weirdo, and as a fellow weirdo, I should have been nicer. But Christ if the whole class didn't howl after she said it, and subsequent attempts to get back on track, both from me and the teacher, only elicited more and more fanciful details of this satyr that she'd "seen." Anyway, her grandfather invented Post-It notes (or so she said, but I've no reason to doubt her), so she said she was set for life.

Eleventh grade: Technically for a math class, the theme of my presentation was based on a survey where I asked my classmates "What percentage of the data for my final presentation will be falsified?" While most people believed that I would falsify all of it, I actually only rounded off a couple numbers at the end to give myself a sample size that was easier to figure out the confidence for. The best presentation that year was from a kid who got an ungodly number of Skittles from a couple of different locations, and plotted out the probabilities for each color and the amount of deviation within each packet. By the end, he said he fucking hated Skittles.
posted by klangklangston at 2:45 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

My science fair projects were titled, in order, Friction, Crystals, Sleep Tunes, and Hot Balls. Looking at these pictures is like coming home.

I hated my science teacher
posted by infinitewindow at 2:54 PM on February 21, 2008

Make a dotcom

1998: Sure, we laugh now. kid will probably be a millionaire in five years.

2008: Sure. We laugh now; Kid will probably be chasing the lulz and photoshoping lolcats for the next five years.
posted by quin at 3:44 PM on February 21, 2008

God, the bitter memories. I remember fourth grade, when I grew eight petri dishes of bacteria over the course of three weeks. Because I didn't have a camera, I had to sit down every night and hand-draw that bacteria. It took about an hour per night- I really tried to make the drawings good, and I kept at it even when I wanted to scream from frustration.

The only girl in class with a color printer won with "At What Temperature Do Different Liquids Boil?"
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:21 PM on February 21, 2008

easternblot, what were her conclusions on Nair?

I don't really remember... I think she decided that was the best one based on the other two hurting her.
posted by easternblot at 4:32 PM on February 21, 2008

Like easternblot. I've done my tour of duty as a real live scientist at the science fair. Here are the memories I haven't suppressed:

1) School teachers stammer uncomfortably when the big hairy guy tells them he's a research biochemist at a large corporation.

2) Do what you can to avoid being "paired" with a teacher! I knew who did more of the hypothesis/experiment/analysis thing. She knew who she wanted to give the higher score to. (Showbiz_Liz - If it makes you feel any better, imagine a big hairy biochemist causing your teacher's head to explode with the power of his mind because that's what I was trying to do.)

3) You can always tell the schools where they're making all the kids enter the science fair. The schools where they've beaten every bit of original though out of the kid's heads are painfully obvious too. Guess how often it's both!

4) In the school districts I judged, we didn't get to meet the kids, just see they're displays. My suspicion was that they were afraid that some big hairy researcher freak would say something to them that might suggest that it was OK to be curious about the world or to ask questions or something like that.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:24 PM on February 21, 2008

I won a science fair once.

It was a completely bogus "experiment" (in that it wasn't at all experimental, but was a fun little game).

Presentation is, indeed, everything in a typical grade-school science fair.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on February 21, 2008

I officially hand over America to whomever wants it.

"Whomever"? What are you, some kind of Canadian?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 AM on February 22, 2008

thanks, it was good !
posted by nicolin at 7:14 AM on February 28, 2008

Maybe it can be understood as a metaphor. Then it's beautiful. Thanks anyway.
posted by nicolin at 7:22 AM on February 28, 2008

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