Monday, February 10, 2014

Invention Convention is not for me.

I never regretted having multiple children until they started going to school and I started having to "help" them with their ridiculous school projects.  I have to say that I am particularly offended by first-grade projects that must be completed each six weeks and involve some sort of written and oral presentation with props.  Thank the Lord, I only have to do that one more year when George rolls into first grade.  Second grade has been my favorite year so far, and it may have to do with the amazing teacher Luke and Evie both have had.  She's been a blessing in our lives.  I swear.  Although, it certainly isn't without projects.

To be fair, fourth grade hasn't been that bad, and probably would have been much easier if I had a child like Evie going through it right now.  Truthfully, if Luke would just sit down and do the work, it wouldn't be the massive headache that it is.  I'm talking about things like the Accelerated Reader Program and the crazy vocabulary/spelling packages called Wordly Wise (not Worldly Wise - which is what I thought it was).  It's SAT prep.  Not kidding.  SAT 4th grade. 

Am I bitching about the fantastic education my children are receiving?  Uh...yes, I think I am.  Don't think I'm not grateful.  I am.  I just hate that I'm having to do the projects with them because the projects are so far above the kids' ability to do it all on their own.  Trust me, I've seen other kids' presentations - the ones where the kid was left to his/her own devices to complete it on their own.  It's not a good thing.  Not at all.  Kids really do need some direction and a guiding hand.  But that's all I think there should be.  Because I've also seen the projects that were completed 100% by the parent.  I've seen kids read type-written reports in teh 1st grade with words and phrases that could only have been put together by a parent.  I don't think the parents should be the ones coming up with the ideas, making them happen, and pushing them across the finish line. There.  I've said it.  Now let me tell you about this ridiculous thing called Invention Convention.

Invention Convention is a fabulous idea for overachieving kids, much like UIL, student council, and mathletes.  And for third-graders at my kids' school it is optional.  But for fourth-graders, it is required.  But, let me tell you what it is before I get too ahead of myself in this bitch fest.  Kids are required to participate in the school Invention Convention competition - and each student will get a ribbon for his/her invention.  It also counts as a science grade.  So, here's the deal: the "kids" have to invent something or innovate something.  (Sadly, I only really discerned the difference between these two terms after Luke reminded me - although, I did know what they meant, I just had never thought about it).  Unfortunately, the term "kids" more accurately includes the kids' parents. 

They came home with a 14-page packet containing a letter to the parents with attached instructions, rules, and forms.  I had to return a signed statement acknowledging my receipt of the information and the due date.  Um...yeah...pretty sure that means it is my project, not my son's.  Not to mention, there are typos in the packet concerning deadlines and dates (apparently left over from last year), so I give the science teachers a B- on this packet I'm required to abide by.  I digress.  Here are the requirements:
  • Students must come up with an invention or innovation;
  • Students must research the item to determine if there is anything out there like it, how it will work, how it will be built and marketed, etc.
  • Students must build a model of the item, not to exceed the dimentions of 3'x3'
  • Students must prepare a triptych (I never knew that's what a trifold Science Fair board was called until now.  I always called it a trifold presentation thingy.)
  • The triptich must include: a drawing of the product, a description of the product, an inventor's log detailing the process of the project, and "Something Else I Want You to Know About My Invention"
  • Cost cannot exceed $20, and must be documented in the log.
But, let me tell you that, as a lawyer, my absolute favorite part of this 14-page packet, is the hold harmless clause.  I am not kidding.  Check it out:  "It is clearly and fully understood that the student and his/her parent(s) or legal guardian(s) will hold harmless the Fort Worth Independent School District and its designees for any property loss or injury generated by or resulting from the entry."  Seriously?  What the hell happened in the past that caused the school to include an effing hold harmless clause?!  I'm totally going to find out how this originated, because I've never ever seen an elementarly school project assignment that included a hold harmless clause!

Moving on...

So, I put Chuck in charge of this project, since I had to work on Evie's second grade Heritage Project in which we also put together a triptych, researched our Polish heritage, gathered our family recipes, burned a CD of polka music to share with the class, and cooked Perogies to share with the class.  My second grade project earned Evie and A last week.  I'm so proud!  But, back to Chuck.  Clearly he was the obvious choice to be in charge of something that has to be built.  I mean, let's face it, I'm not mechanically, spacially, or mathmatically inclined.  This would have disaster written all over it if I had been in charge of such a thing.

So, here's Luke's invention (which has to be turned in annonymously for judging purposes, so let's hope the judges aren't reading my blog - yeah, right): The Room Pulley.

It's a pulley/rope system that helps kids make their beds especially for the top bunk of a bunk bed.  You know how hard it is to make the bed on the top bunk?  Yeah, so this is supposed to help you pull up the blankets without having to climb up on the top bunk and pull and stretch.  Chuck helped Luke make the model of a bed - even though I was all excited to borrow this pink and purple American Girl bed so that we could just attach the pulley and move on with our lives sans circular saw, sanding, and nailing. Bleh.

Instead, Chuck and Luke made this:

The "bed" with the blankets unmade.

The "bed" with me pulling the rope so that the blankets are "made".
So, whatever.  It's all done.  I glued the last piece of paper onto the triptych last night while nursing a glass of wine.  We dragged it across the finish line.  I'm so over Invention Convention.


Charles said...

The point is that the clip attaches on the opposite side of the bed, the one you can't reach easily.

Emily said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It made me laugh, remembering Madeline had to build a roller coaster this year.... Sounds fun for all of 5 minutes and then it was a beat DOWN.

Theresa said...

It was miserable. Adn I love that Chuck had to further explain it. I swear I did not understand it completely until the day we actually took it in. Misery.