A fourteen year-old nuclear physicist. A seventeen year-old horse whisperer. A young Navajo in need of a warmer home. A teenage fashionista interested in bees and pollination. What do they all have in common? Curiosity, follow-through, and science fairs.
Science Fair Season by Judy Dutton was recommended to me by BF Fermata. She and I love a good kids-doing-amazing-things story. This is most likely because she is an educator and I like to think I am a future educator. This book does not disappoint at all.
Dutton gets interested in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2009 held in Reno, Nevada. There, she follows six kids’ stories, as well as follows up on some recent science fair legends. Some of the kids are totally who you would think attend competitive science fairs. They are focused, have mentorship, and are completely enamored with the science they study, such as the kid nuclear physicist and the robot engineer. The surprising stories come from the kids who come from unlikely situations to do very well at these science fairs, like the Navajo boy who built a solar generator from old car parts and aluminum cans or the boys from a juvenile detention facility who explored the likelihood and locations of living forms on Mars.
The author does a nice job of balancing science for the lay man (or woman) and the stories of these kids. It’s an easy read that can warm your heart and make you feel like a serious under-achiever. But these kids’ stories are great, and I am so glad that this book proves that despite what the numbers say about America’s progress in science and mathematics, there are kids rising above that, and succeeding. My only criticism of the book is that Dutton gets a little repetitive. I feel like I read some variation of the same sentence three times towards the end. But it didn’t hinder the stories and the spotlight on the kids at all.
If you like the sound of this book, there are a couple of documentaries that I highly suggest you put on your Netflix queue: Spellbound, about the National Spelling Bee; and Whiz Kids, about the Intel Science Talent Search competition. I love Spellbound. It was fascinating. And Whiz Kids is directly related to this book.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Just a small, related, brag-worthy fact: I won fourth place in The National Geographic Geography Bee held at my school when I was in the fourth grade. I was the only girl to make it that far in the bee, and I was one of the younger contestants. I also feel that the question that threw me out was a little ridiculous, and so I harbor some over-achiever kid resentment towards that competition.
*Editor’s note: I have been Freshly Pressed for a second time! This makes me feel very proud, especially because this is my 100th post. Thanks for reading, and I hope I can get to all your comments, but if I don’t, know that I completely appreciate your readership and hope you hang around. Thanks again!