#196 – The Tale of What Happened at the Science Fair

Today was one of the most exciting days on the Greenvale School’s calendar: The Annual Science Fair. Amelia Cuthbert arrived at the school’s hall one hour before school started, just to get a half decent spot on the day and, after twenty minutes, had finished setting up her science project on one of the display tables. The tables were placed in a U shape in the centre of the hall, so the worst place to be was on a corner table. No matter how engaging or practical your project was, people tended to take a shortcut to reach the other side, completely walking past your project in favour of the excitement visible on any one of the three edges. “Science shouldn’t be the same as working in the car yard,” Amelia told anyone who would listen. “We shouldn’t have to sell the ideas contained in the project, people should want to come and investigate the wonders of science for themselves.” Today, however, Amelia was leaving as few elements of her project to chance as possible.

The brief was fairly straightforward: Come up with a hypothesis that would help the town of Greenvale, test it and present your findings. On paper, it looked quite simple. However, fifth graders such as Amelia had learned over the years that there were several unmentioned nuances the judges paid particular attention to. The students had determined for example, that the project was far more likely to win if it involved moving parts. Last year, Simone Harrington won when she proposed and tested the hypothesis that there was a magnetic field around the town of Greenvale keeping the people from leaving. This wasn’t true of course, but the judges did enjoy watching the miniature electric cars attempting to leave the incredibly detailed model of the town, only to be held back by the magnets hidden under the tables. The year before that, Jason McLachlan had won when he unintentionally blew up the projects either side of his own. He was testing his theory that the water from Crow’s Nest Pond contained such high volumes of condensed energy, that the town of Greenvale would no longer need to rely on an external power grid. He wasn’t able to prove his point, but it became evident that the judges liked explosions as well.

Amelia’s hypothesis involved helping the town of Greenvale, it contained moving parts and a miniature explosion, and now her project had a prime position. Her hypothesis? Well, no one’s allowed to talk about it. And the only reason the students can guess that they’re not allowed to talk about it is because it worked. The judges may have awarded first place to Olivia Frederickson’s experiment testing her theory that the animals of Greenvale were vastly more intelligent than the rest of the world (it had a mechanical spider wrapping up a bear in its web and reenacted an avalanche caused by a flea), but all of the students were talking about what happened during Amelia’s experiment. By the afternoon, any resemblance of the facts of what happened in the hall vanished, mixed in with the rumours and half-truths spreading across the school like wildfire. By the time the school bell rang, only one fact remained: That Greenvale School’s Science Fair is by far one of the most intriguing events of the year. Any other claim is no better than gossip.

My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.

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