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Monday
May032010

Grade Eight Science Project

There are some moments in a family's timeline that beg to be documented for posterity.

Please read that as: there are just some decisions your husband makes that are so certifiably insane that you need to publicly mock them and document them so that you may relive them forever and hold over his head for the rest of his life.

Thankfully my husband, bless his cotton socks, has seen fit to provide me with such fodder. He's so considerate that way.

My daughter Fric recently came home with a grade eight homework assignment. A science project.

Now back when I was hip deep in junior high science, I dreaded any type of science project I was assigned. My parents weren't hands-on with my academics and experiments or projects meant I had to buckle down and suffer alone. I hated science, which meant I was always the kid who did a project that revolved around growing mold on bread.

Needless to say, I didn't excel in science.

My daughter, however, loves science and proves that in some cases, the apple does drop and then roll far, far away from the tree it was grown on.

Her assignment was relatively simple. Design and construct a simple catapult. You would have thought her teacher asked her to create a weapon worthy of military use.

I admit it, being the homework-hating mother I am, I cringed when my daughter walked through the door and excitedly told me about her assignment. I'm pretty sure the blood drained from my face like some sparkly vampire was sucking at my carotid and I was immediately teleported back to the days of potatoes as batteries and mason jars filled with bits of mold.

My husband, being the over-achiever he is, took one look at the assignment and shot his hand up to volunteer to help like his life depended on it. Way to make me look bad dear husband.

To be fair to my husband, (because I'd like to ensure he remains my husband,) he was thrilled to be home to help his daughter with her homework. Working out of town 26 days of each month does not tend to lead to a lot of hands on daddy time and by golly, he was bound and determined to make the most out of what he had.

My daughter was just thrilled one of her parents was as excited about the project as she was.

For the next two days Boo and Fric sat at the kitchen counter, heads together and working through one piece of graph paper after another as he helped my daughter design her catapult blue prints.

It was rather adorable really. Especially since every time I tried to peak at what they were up to they both hissed at me and covered up their work like I was some secret agent spy looking to sell their master plans to the highest bidder in the grade eight class.

When my daughter had finally created a design my husband deemed viable, they headed off to the store to pick up building supplies to bring the project to life.

I expected them to come back with a handful of popsicle sticks and some elastics.

I was wrong.

Turns out, they had much grander ideas.

As construction of the grade eight science project began, I watched my husband and my daughter organize their tools and supplies, and I admit, I laughed at my husband.

"You do realize this design may be a wee over the top?"

"Sure, but it's gonna be fun!" he grinned as he ordered Fric to round up some welding rods.

"But the idea of this experiment is for her to learn something. I'm a little worried you may have bitten off more than she can chew, Boo."

"Honey," he said in that patronizing way he does when he figures he is smarter than me, "even babies need to learn how to chew. That's what I'm planning on doing. Teaching her to chew. While making the best damn catapult known to mankind."

That's when I rolled my eyes at him and went back into the house to wash my hands of the entire thing. If anyone asked, I fully planned on telling them I don't know whom those people were outside on my front lawn.

And so the project went. Them working side by side from sun up to sun down with me inside, rolling my eyes and shaking my head.

I tend to be very helpful like that.

It turns out my husband had an entirely different idea of his own. While I only saw 'lame annoying science project', he saw 'potential to introduce his child to the basic tools of his trade.'

Go figure.

After the materials had been organized and lined up, the tools carefully laid out and the safety equipment procured and fully explained, my husband set my daughter loose. With power tools. While grinning.

First there was the cutting and grinding of the metal rods that were to make the frame.


Fric (and Frac, because let's face it, Dad was home and letting them play with expensive toys and there was no way he was going to let his big sister have all the fun) took to grinding like a duck to water. You could tell the kids were enjoying themselves because they not only sat through Boo's safety lectures but they never rolled their eyes once.

Whose children are these and where did mine go, is what I want to know.

Once the pieces had been cut to specification, the welding fun began.


At first Boo held the torch as he guided the kids through the basic principals of welding.

Then he let them have a go at it by themselves.


When I later asked how the welds held up, he grinned and said it looked like basic chickensh!t. But the welds held and that was all that mattered.

(This of course, only reinforces my belief that any monkey can do his job, so thanks for that honey. You totally proved my job is harder.

*Cackles gleefully.*)

Once the basic frame was assembled, the two of them got down to business of putting the guts in.


I admit, by the time the frame was together and I could see the vast scope of the project the two of them had undertaken, I stopped rolling my eyes. I was too busy trying to remember to close my gaping maw. I swear I swallowed a few flies as my mouth hanged open.


Eventually, the catapult was finished. It took the entire four days my husband was home for my daughter to finish this project. Apparently, creating genius is a time consuming project, especially when one's father insists you do the work yourself and sits on the steps with a beer as he supervises.

Welcome to your first taste of the real world Fric. Some things never change.


It took three people and an elephant to get the catapult off my unfinished wheelchair ramp (which, at this point, I have decided doesn't need safety rails) and onto the lawn for the initial launch.


As Frac, Jumby and myself stood far, far away, we watched as Boo and Fric excitedly set the contraption up and I readied myself for the tears that would follow if the launch failed.


Apparently, I worried for nothing.

There is a dent in the side of my house proving just how effective this weapon catapult really is. Thanks guys. I will tell myself it just adds character.

In the end, my husband got to spend some serious quality time with his oldest children, my kids learned equal parts science, trade skills and the art of military tactics and I may have learned a thing or two myself.

Never underestimate your child's creativity. Given the chance they will surprise you as they launch egg missiles half a mile down the road.

And never ever underestimate a father's willingness to unleash his own inner 13 year old on his family. As he's launching eggs at your house.

I still maintain popsicle sticks and rubber bands would have sufficed.

However, my band of merry over-achievers aren't listening.

*Note: My daughter also had a partner for this project, a girl who all but moved in (and whom I forced to eat my poorly tasting tofu dinners) while she participated in the project as well. Due to privacy laws however, I didn't include her in the post. However, if her science teacher is reading this, she can grind and weld just as well as any monkey can.*
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Reader Comments (49)

Man, I wish I'd been half the science student your daughter is - then I'd have a useful skill set!

I am a Jew. When my kid is in 8th grade, I will pay my handyman $30 an hour to help her build her, whatever it happens to be. I'm sweating from looking at the pictures.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOut-Numbered

That is phenomenal. GREAT JOB!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterliz

Wow, that is so very awesome. I'm jealous your daughter now knows how to weld. I can think of several awesome uses for a contraption such as that, including seeing how far the small dog my wife has will fly. That would be swell...

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHockeymandad

That is pure awesomeness!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDigitalPagan

I recall my 'science experiment' in grade 8. And I didn't like it. One bit. But - happily - the big blue plastic board my parents bought for me to do the 'presentation' on got to get used later for puppet shows and other artistic endeavours.

That is an impressive Catapult. I am sure no one in her class will expect that at all.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

That isn't a science project. That is an actual weapon of mass destruction. Can't wait to hear what the reaction is to this outstanding project.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNeil

That is awesome.

It's an awesome project, but I think I'm here rolling my eyes at your husband but only because I get caught every time I roll my eyes at my own.

Overbuilding a project, especially a project with/for the kids, seems to be a genetic issue.

Wow, that is so cool. I hate homework too, but love "projects." My kids don't let me help, which I guess is good because my husband is the one who loudly exclaims "clearly the parents did that project" in the kindergarten class. I loved working on science projects with my dad, nothing this cool, though, what with his tools of the trade being batteries, wires and resistors.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I love your daughter's welding shoes. :)

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill

I love this post - it just goes to show how kids can rise to the challenge if science is presented in an interesting way.

I taught my daughter to operate the hydraulics on a Fork Lift Truck when she was three and she loved it!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie (Lady M) x

This is great! Good job dad! That is probably the coolest science project I've ever seen.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLua

My husband is an engineer. I can only imagine what the future science projects are going to be for my daughters.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandi Bone

My husband & son are going to be green with envy!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrandeMocha

Um yeah, he's the coolest dad ever. Good thing, since he's got to keep up with you!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjennielynn

What a wonderful post - first of all because your husband got to spend that time with your daughter and eldest son, working together on something and secondly because they set their goals high and then set out determinedly to achieve them. A lesson for all of us in how if you put your mind to it, you can do most anything you want.

I am so glad to see you are back blogging - you were sorely missed.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAging Mommy

Your family gets cooler by the minute. Seriously.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

That is awesome! First, how cool that she was so excited. Second, how cool that her dad is so incredibly involved. And Third... wait... I have to call my therapist about my daddy issues...

And for the record, potatoes batteries RAWK!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSugar Jones

I recently sent http://www.amazon.com/Whoosh-Boom-Splat-Warriors-Projectile/dp/0307339483/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272920515&sr=8-1" rel="nofollow">this book to a 12-year-old. He has a dad who also loves things that go vrrrrrrrrroooooom and things that go BOOM!

Fortunately, his mom is a friend agrees that anything that A) gets her son to read; and, B) gets her boys, large and small, working together is a good thing.

Tell Fric I said that female engineers and scientists can write their own tickets these days. You go, kiddo!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOmnibus Driver

Awesome. That might be the best science project ever. Mine all totally sucked in comparison.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKarin aka perpstu

That is AWESOME.

Thanks for sharing.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMIke

That is one of the funniest things I have read in a long long time (sorry...). I have a husband and two daughters and suspect I may be in for this type of thing in the future (they are still small). Already he has shown them how to fart with them armpits.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMuddynoSugar

We are so lucky to have dads that will tackle school projects. Give me a math problem, but do not make me build a science project. Bleah!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngie Cox

I was scared to cut some dowels so my kid could make a model of the Lincoln Memorial. I'm damn well doomed if hardcore tools come into play! Will she freelance and ship to the midwest?!

That's great. I hope that both girls get an A plus. Now, how are they getting it to school?

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Too hilarious! A dent in your house? Did she hard boil the eggs first? What are you feeding those Canadian chickens?

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

So uhhh how did you get that thing to and IN the school?

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSilvana

Dent with an egg? Excellent! At least it was not "Hole in my window."

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChaosRu

Way to go Boo that is a seriously cool catapult

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhabanerogal

Good god, woman. If you and your family set the bar any higher, I am going to get a nose bleed looking up at you. I still can't operate a hot glue gun without medical intervention.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

That is so full of awesome.

And there's no way I would have helped with the project. I don't do science. I don't even like to cook. Heh.

peace...

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

That catapult is the most awesome looking science project I've ever seen. Puts my collection of magnets and cheesy optical illusions to unspeakable shame.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Ok, so that was awesome. Now what are you going to do with a big-ass catapult on your lawn?

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShnerfle

This sounds like my husband when my daughter was supposed to make a robot for school, my hubby being a plumber and my daughters wild imagination........the end result was way more than expected, I'm surprised this robot didn't walk and talk when they were done lol

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBillie

I remember the shudder very well when my own DD brought home that assignment... Oh how I counted my blessing that she had 2 Dad's to choose from for help :)

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie

thats a way better job then what i did when my oldest was in grade 8 who is now in grade 11 brought home the same dumb ass science project. we just went to the local arts and crafts store and bought a almost ready made catapult as the rules never said you couldnt you just had to do some of the building so we did and i tell you even having to glue a few peices together was a pain in the arse for me.lol the best part is that my oldest daughter used the same one last year and i still have 3 more kids to go threw. i just hope the glue holds for another 6 years.lmao
boo and fric did a way better job then i ever could i hope she gets a A on the project.

Remember in yesterday's post about how parents should be heroes to their kids? Yeah. Boo totally nailed that.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCountessa

TOTALLY awesome. I might request the blueprints in a few years.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Catapult me a latte, will you?

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane

That entire adventure is made of awesome. Also kudos to Fric for wearing her cute shoes while welding. Love seeing girls kick butt and well be girls. Cause they are not mutually exclusive ideas.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobinM

That is amazing! Isn't it amazing how over the top Dad's are?

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchanel

Awww. Love this! And now I want a Dad too.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMama Kat

Holy Schnikes...that's awesome. Hope she got a freakin' A++.

They better start working on a bigger one- for pumpkins.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Hussy

Man, I would have been all over that, but mine would have been made of wood. I dont own metal cutting/welding tools, my wife wont let me since i destroy enuf things with my wood ones.

Men love things that either blow up or in some way cause other things to be destroyed. Carthage, Mesopotamian, Berlin, Hiroshima, you know, all those places that got blown up. Its a man thing. I mean, if women designed and fought wars, well, cat scratch fights at the Mega-Mall just dont seem to have enough drama in them.

Just saying.

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLarryLilly

Man, my kids are in trouble...DH can barely boil water or change a lightbulb and it would be suicide to let him near any kind of tool!!!lol

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I pink puffy heart your husband and his heart. Dads with kids is too cute! And you hit the jackpot with the cute!

Lucky!!!

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

this is the best tanis... what grade did she get??? and any Military contracts follow???

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjeff

"my kids learned equal parts science, trade skills and the art of military tactics"

I don't mean to be gushy, but they learned some other things:
The unyielding love of a father
Perseverance & the pride of a large job undertaken & completed well.
And my favorite: That the world hands us gender roles, and we can tell the world to take them right back and shove 'em. A girl learning that power tools aren't impossibly scary things can't be stopped by anyone.

It's not a man's world, Fric, it's your world. ;)

May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEryn

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