Super Cool Science and Engineering Activities with Max Axiom Super Scientist book we used, we literally made a trebuchet, which is a siege engine most frequently used in the Middle Ages that used weight and gravity to fling stuff. I kept calling it a catapult, though, so that's what the girls called it.
The planning also seemed simple and clear enough. The Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) would be at Kidpower training during the days all weekend, so the project window would be Saturday midmorning. Everything was set -- the poster board, the notebook, the weight scale, the catapult (trebuchet), a landing board, a ruler, pencils and all the stuff we'd fling.
But no matter how well I planned, there were three variables right in front of my face, including literally my own face, that I didn't account for: two children and the Daddy, who is not the Mama.
So the hypothesis went like this: Smaller and lighter things will fly a farther distance than bigger and heavier things using the same force – because it takes more power to fling bigger and heavier things just as far as the smaller and lighter things.
There we were gathered around the table. The smaller and lighter things -- Beatrice and Bryce -- flying all over the place, laughing and playing. Bryce climbed under the table and tickled Bea, and Bea laughed and laughed.
"Girls, c'mon, if we don't do this today, we won't get it done before the science fair this week," I said, doing my best to remain calm.
"Do what?" Bea said, laughing maniacally.
The bigger and heavier thing, me, felt powerless to channel the girls frenetic energy into productive science.
"Okay, so now let's fling the marble and see how far it goes," I said.
I flung it and marked where it landed, but Bea wanted to mark it where it rolled to.
"No, it went here!" she cried.
"No, Beatrice, we're marking it where it lands."
"No, it went here!"
Bryce kept scrambling all over and under. I forged ahead, the situational gravity sucking the light and patience out of me.
I flung the little piece of wadded tape. It landed and rolled farther.
"Mark it there, where it landed."
"No, it went here!"
"Beatrice, why are you doing this? We agreed it would be where they landed first."
"I'm just teasing you, Daddy."
This kept going for nearly 15 minutes and I realized that I just needed to chill out and let them have fun. We'd get it all done once they calmed down. There was no rush. We had all day. But then Bryce sat back in the chair next to me and started slamming the weight scale onto the table and laughed even harder. And Bea started flinging the stuff all over the place.
I asked Bryce three times to stop slamming the scale, and Bea to stop flinging. And then, because it takes more power to fling bigger and heavier things just as far as the smaller and lighter things, I clamped my large hand down onto her smaller one and stopped her from slamming.
"That's it girls! I'm done! We're not doing this anymore! I don't understand why you're acting like this! This was supposed to be our fun time together doing the science fair project! Go away from the table!"
Bryce cried. Beatrice went white. And I felt like crap. Immediately. And then I felt justified. Yes, they're just kids, but it had to be done if we were going to get any of it done.
A minute later Bea asked, "Daddy, can we still finish the project?"
"Yes, I'm sorry girls. Bryce, I'm sorry. It's just frustrating when we're trying to do something together and you don't want to do it. It's okay if you don't, but I'd really like to finish it."
"We want to do it, Daddy. I'm sorry."
"Bryce, do you want to come over and help finish?"
Bryce nodded. Beatrice smiled. And three free elements finally came together to fling stuff, measure stuff and analyze stuff. And it was awesome.
The girls love science and we'll continue to encourage them to learn about the world around us and those beyond us. Unfortunately women continue to be underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM), but if we can have anything to do with it, then we'll help ensure their imaginative wonder will never cease. (God knows we need more wonder today than in recent memory.)
A little later after flinging stuff...
"Daddy, you know what?"
"Last night, I had a dream that Mommy was Donald Trump, and Daddy was Taylor Swift, and Beatrice was Lady GaGa, and then I looked at myself in the mirror and I was Darth Vader with a light saber and then I hit you all in the face with a big stuffed animal, and then a Storm Trooper said 'would you like a cupcake' and then I woke up."
"Wow. Where did you hear this stuff?"
Note to self -- more science and less me. #BhivePower indeed.