Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hey! I - er, I mean, my son worked hard on that!

The great thing about the intarwebz is that you can see so much of the human story that would normally cruise right under your radar. For example, today I learned that a woman welder in a British WWII shipyard who became the first woman to earn equal pay (in England, presumably) turned 100 this week. I also learned that Osaka University has produced what they claim to be the first human-robot artistic collaboration.

Then, after reading about a historic woman and what could be a great step forward in scientific achievement, I read a single story about a crazy woman ensuring that her son won't be part of any future scientific achievement.

It seems she brought her 7th-Grade son's science project to school for him (he couldn't bring it himself?) and dropped it off outside the science teacher's door so as not to disturb her class (couldn't call the teacher to arrange a drop off?).

This was bad, because the janitor found it and apparently threw it in the dumpster. When she finds out he did this, she goes "dumpster diving" to find it. She did it for her son, who apparently doesn't give a shit, caring more about video games than science projects.

You can read all about it here.

So what's the big deal? Why would this have me shaking my head? Behold...the science project:


Known as Newton's Cradle, or "that thing on dad's desk you like to fiddly-fuck around with", mom apparently paid $25 for it. Great. We get our science projects at Sharper Image now. It was, apparently, about the concept of momentum - a little understood thing that requires further exploration (pardon the snark...but this is like a second grader doing a science project on snot...pick, smear, write name). Holy crap...I'd have at least made the ungrateful turd make one. You see, in doing so, you kind of sort of get a grasp of the physics at work behind the contraption, and it helps on the "findings" portion (i.e. it wouldn't be perfect like the ones you buy, you could explain why, etc etc).

I guess that gets me to my point. Now there's some detail missing in the story but I think I have a good read, and I'll push my chips all in - because having held my own kid's feet to the fire over more than one science project, I'm pretty sure that "Little Timmy Video Game" didn't do crap on this one, except maybe write his name and the word "mowmintem projikt".

This saddens me. Our populace is not scientifically literate enough. (Hell, I wondered if I should have deleted "enough".) Helicopter parenting your kids through school will guarantee we remain that way.

On the lighter side, the do-it-yourself Newton's Cradle looks pretty cool! I think I'll make one with my kids this weekend. They can save it in case someone springs a science project on them...


Dr. Momentum said...

Let me know what you use for the balls.

One interesting variation would be to make one of the balls on one end exactly twice the mass of the other balls. You could do this by gluing them together. What will happen?

Bull said...

When I need balls, I use alcohol.

Oh wait, wrong kinda' balls.