High School Science Fairs were always a lot of fun during my High School days! Whether I was just visiting or participating, they always provided interesting, enlightening and memorable experiences.
Some students obviously spent lots of time and effort constructing their exhibits and project props, posters, charts & graphs, various “devices”, and so on. I remember seeing the familiar “van de Graaff generators” at more than one science fair!
That’s the static-electricity generating device that looks like an aluminum ball atop an aluminum pedestal…and when turned on, sets up a static-electricity field around the ball…which would extend far enough to make passers-by feel its effects; their body hairs would “stand on end”, as the saying goes.
Although that particular science fair project may have been slightly ‘over-used’ through the years, it always provided an interesting distraction, if nothing more!
Sometimes, as we’d walk around the gymnasium filled with tables, booths and setups with a myriad of uniquely intriguing and innovative exhibits, we’d come across one or two which just seemed to stand out.
I recall one year when just such an exhibit was set up on the “stage” section of the gym (back in those days, the schools had ‘multi-use’ spaces, not separate auditoriums, gyms, etc. as is more common today). There were about six or seven other exhibits also up on the stage section, set up in sort of a horse-shoe shape across the stage.
As we walked along from the right side of the stage to the left, nearing the end of the stage exibits, we noticed one booth with posters that read “Invisible Paint Exhibit”.
On the table were more neatly printed, free-standing smaller signs which briefly outlined how the ‘invisible paint’ had been invented, and how ‘such an innovative and ground-breaking invention could benefit all of mankind in ways unimaginable’, and how upon the table were actual items which had been coated with this newly invented miracle paint, thus they could not be seen.
And, as I recall, “feeling for them” was prohibited, as the surfaces could become ‘visible’ if fingerprints or dust were left behind from touching them. So, basically, the exhibit was “barren” except for the posters and signage. Hmmmmmmmmm……..! How interesting!
Moving along past the “Invisible Paint” exhibit, we came to the next booth with more signs and posters! Now what? Another “miracle” invention?
Nope! The signs and posters on this exhibit…the one just next to the “Invisible Paint” exhibit…explained how the ‘mad-genius’ who invented the Invisible Paint had spilled it all over the adjacent exhibit, rendering everything in THAT exhibit “invisible”, as well! How unfortunate! All the work that must have been done, and nothing to “show” for it! Hmmmmmmm…..!
OK….I’m sure you get it by now…and, as we walked along looking these exhibits over, I could not help but “chuckle” all the while.
You see, the “Invisible Paint” idea was my brother’s contribution to the Science Fair…and the exhibit next to his was one of his best friend’s contributions. As the story goes, neither of these two had originally planned to contribute anything to the Science Fair that particular year (though they had in other years); I don’t know why, but that’s what I heard later.
And, it seems the Principal of the school had a conversation with the two of them…”encouraging them to participate”…so they decided at the last minute to put together an exhibit which certainly drew a lot of visitors and attention…even of the judges!
Everyone passing through those stage-exhibits that year was treated with something none of them could have expected to get from a typical Science Fair. With all the high-tech, high-brow, high-honors exhibits, these two characters had ‘stolen the show’ with their creative and fun thinking! No harm was done…and, I believe they may even have received a “special” honorable-mention for all their “hard work”!
Sometimes…science is just plain fun!