Last Friday Jada turned in her science fair project. Ah yes, the familiar tri-fold board, with scribbles and print-outs and pictures (and, in her case, baggies of crystals). This was the culmination of a few weeks' worth of work on her part. I'm proud of her for seeing it through.
In my day job, I cast an eagle eye on reports that go out under my watch. Precision and uniformity matter to me. So I obsess over font size, line spacing, and table column widths. I can't bring myself to let slide even an irregularly spaced dash.
But when it comes to Jada's work, at this first go round, I'm OK with the production being all on her. I may have boiled the water, and Amy may have suggested a few ways for Jada to think about her conclusions, but this project has been largely of her hands and her thoughts.
Not surprisingly, since she is but 9, the finished product is pretty ragged, at least by adult standards. The printouts are a little askew, some ramble on and on when they should probably be shortened, and in a few places she's scribbled in some extra notes by hand.
The temptation is there, for sure, to swoop in and fix it, like a helicopter parent might, or to throw it back in her face and make her improve it, like a Tiger Mom might. And, there are still many years left of science fairs to do either or both. But for now, we've left it be. However she's graded, it'll be on her performance alone, and she'll be able to own all the pluses and learn from all the minuses.
I did sit her down and encourage her to look at her classmates' boards, and to take notes where she say things that looked good so she could remember them for next year. We praised her for a good first effort, and continue to look for avenues to encourage additional scientific exploration. And we made note that as her classwork gets harder and harder, we're going to need to spend some legitimate time helping her out, even if we continue to maintain more of a "you figure it out" approach to education.