Science Fair 2008

Last night was Harrison’s (and the family’s) first Science Fair. It was a great success. The Pleasant Ridge organizers did a great job in scheduling and providing space for all the presenters. Mrs. Caldwell, Harrison’s teacher, was there. His Principal, Mrs. Light, also came even though she had already stayed at school one evening this week and will be there again tonight. And Grandma Labuta came, too, which pleased both Harrison and Grace.
Harrison and I have been talking for weeks about his “robot” project, but it’s really just been this past week that we put it together.
And I do mean WE put it together. I helped and guided with leading questions, but Harrison did a lot of the work and the thinking. He built the robot itself (from the Lego Mindstorms robot kit he got for Christmas). I was at the controls as we created the program together with the Mindstorms Software, but he helped design it and he did a lot of the adjustments during the debugging process himself. I was really proud and happy to see how much he enjoyed the software debugging process (not that we called it that), observing the robot’s actions, deciding what changes were necessary, making the changes on the computer, and then re-downloading the updated program to the robot.

Sarah and I were most proud, though, to watch Harrison present his project at the fair. At home, he was hesitant to answer when we asked him questions about it. A couple of times he shrugged and said “I don’t know,” which led to urgent lectures from me. “If you say that,” I told him, “people will be sure your dad made the project for you.” At the fair, though, he stepped right up and explained how the robot worked to whomever came by. He told us later he was nervous, but he looked like a very natural teacher. Sometimes there was one person there, sometimes small groups.

Grace reports today that the Science Fair was “very fun,” and at the beginning that seemed to be true. As the evening wore on, though, she was running out of things to do and running out of steam. She was also running out of nourishment. At dinner she had eaten a few pieces of pasta and declared herself done. Now she was regrettting that, although we’ll never get her to admit it.
You can see lots of pictures from the Science Fair at our Flickr account starting here.

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