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Memory Monday-The Science Fair

Memory Monday-It’s a thing…

Let’s talk about science fairs. Do you remember doing these in school? I remember doing both science and social studies fairs in the late 1980-early 1990s. Before pre-scored poster board presentation board were available, before the internet, before electronic tablets for multimedia presentations, and we were just starting to talk about how Aqua Net was eating at the ozone.

A few of the project topics I remember in no particular order:

  • Constellations-this was a partner project with another student. She changed one of our captions to included the word “ascending” at the last minute without telling me. The judges asked us what that word meant and we didn’t know. Needless to say, that was a point deduction. I want to say we placed 3rd in the school but I’m not sure.
  • Africa-this was a solo project. I procrastinated until the weekend before it was due. I relied heavily on the encyclopedia article on Africa for my report. I might have checked out one other book from the local library. My mom found a package of “African animals” at a toy store. Back then, kids used frames made of wood that had three sections. I cut out and colored five maps to show temperature, rainfall, population, and some other socio-political-religious stuff for the left side. I had a larger map of Africa and the word “Africa” on the center board. I glued the toy animals around the big map for good measure. The right side? No clue what I put on that side. I don’t really remember if I placed at school or not. I think I must have, because I seem to recall going to the county competition.
  • North Dakota (or maybe it was South Dakota?)-I know for sure this was during my high school years and I “participated” for extra credit in my social studies class. Not that I really needed the extra credit points, but I wanted them just in case I bombed a test or something. I didn’t place at the school level, but I got my extra points. I liked to bank my extra credit so I didn’t have to stress about the tests as much.

My best project of all time was a solo effort in grade school. I tackled the age old: Solar System. This was before the prefab kits with properly scaled planets so I actually had to put some effort into this. I worked hard on this project and everyone in the house helped me in some way. Debbie helped me type my report so it looked nice and clean. Bev helped me take a razor blade (yes, kids in the 80s played with razor blades) and shave Styrofoam balls down to scale models of each plant. I had the traditional three panel presentation board and I don’t really remember what I put on my poster boards. I do remember I had a stick that spanned the top of the frame and each of the Styrofoam planets, including the sun, were tied to the stick in order. Each planet was a different color and Pluto was still a planet (has it been reclassified as planet again?). I placed 1st at the school level and moved on to the county level. I remember one of the judges at county asking me why I painted each planet the color I painted them. I rattled off something about their distance from the sun so I wouldn’t have to tell her I had eight paint colors and ten objects to paint. I reserved yellow for the sun, red for Mars because it was nicknamed “The Red Planet” and blue for Earth since it is mostly water. Otherwise, the rest were painted whatever color was next on the palette. I placed 2nd in the county.

What stands out the most about that trip to the county science fair was my granny and Bev taking me to the host school. Bev borrowed her boyfriend’s Chevy Camero z28 to take me. I arrived in style! Not like those other kids showing up in mini-vans and station wagons. Then we went out to eat afterward to celebrate my win.


About Marsha Blevins, Author

Marsha Blevins lives in West Virginia with her boyfriend and six fur-children. She earned her B.A. in English with a concentration on writing from Marshall University. Two of her short stories and several poems were published in the university’s literary magazine, Et Cetera. She is an active member of the writing group Wicked Wordsmiths of the West and WV Writers. Follow her at on Facebook at, on Twitter @marbleswords.

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