Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Middle School Science Fair, Rollercoasters and Homeland Security

Last year, the science teachers at my son’s school gave everyone the same assignment for their final projects.  Build a “scaled down model of a real working rollercoaster”.  This also involved a field trip to Elitch Gardens for “inspiration”.  After spending a full day at an amusement park eating junk food, riding all the rollercoasters and throwing up, each student was suppose pick a ride to build a model of.  My son picked a Drop Tower.  Yeah, because everyone enjoys being dropped from 8 stories in the air right?
However, there were also rules.  You couldn’t use anything like Legos, Lincoln Logs, K-netcs kits, etc. etc.  You were supposed to only use things from around the house to build the rollercoaster.  Oh yeah, because I always have 6 inch wide PVC pipe lying around in my basement.  Doesn’t everyone?
Of course the Dangerous Engineering Duo missed that memo, because once they had planned out what they were going to build and how, there were then several trips to Home Depot.  You would be amazed at how many of the seemingly innocent items for sale at Home Depot can be morphed into something resembling the UFO’s you see in grainy pictures.
For the next several weeks, the Dangerous Duo started building the “working” drop tower in the garage.  Complete with a 3 foot tall piece of black PVC pipe, a soldered battery pack and a bunch of wires coming out of the top.  It looked like they were building a pipe bomb.  And of course they did this with the garage door open for all the neighbors to see, which then lead to reports of “suspicious activity” in my garage and several police vehicle drive-byes.  So the division of labor in the house for this project was:  Dad helps build the tower…Mom deals with Homeland Security.  Seems fair right?

Then we had to take it to the school.  Let me tell you, you haven’t really experienced what it’s like to live with engineers until you’ve had to take a project to the school that resembles a large pipe bomb.  When you have to explain to campus security that it’s really just a science project and the science teachers look at you and say “wow, I’ve never seen one look so authentic before”… you know you live with engineers.
After my son demonstrated his project for his final grade, it was then displayed for all the other kids and parents to “ooh and awww” over one evening.  Many of the parents are afraid of us now and one of the students looked at my husband and asked “what do YOU do for a living”? 
The police drive-byes have tampered off, but I’m still waiting for Homeland Security to knock on my door.

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