Fun With Science

by Bob Smiley as told to Bob Smiley

“Did you do your science project?” my mom asked.

“Of course,” I replied.

“The one for this year?” she said.

“Oh, no. That’s not due until Friday!” I said.

“Bob, that’s tomorrow.”

“What? I thought today was Tuesday. How did I lose a day?”

“I don’t know,” Mom said. “But did you lose your planner? We got it for you so you could remember your assignments.”

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I forgot that’s what it’s supposed to be used for. Maybe I should write that down in the front of the planner. I’ve been using it to hold the plans for an underwater helicopter that Billy and I want to build. We’re calling it a ‘Swirly Bird.’ Now we just have to figure out how to make it fly . . . under water.”

“Just go do your project,” Mom said.

“OK, but I need some supplies. Can I have a cup, some baking soda and a flame thrower?”

“No,” she said, not smiling.

 

So I had just one night to do my science project! Why do teachers do this to me? They give me a project way too early. Then by the time I should remember to start it, I’ve already forgotten about it.

Last year’s science project didn’t go over so well. I developed a way to test the speed of light by bringing my flashlight to school. I told the class I would say, “Now!” when I turned it on. Then they should shout, “I see it!” when they saw the light. The result of my test was conclusive: Light is really fast.

The class all did great, except for Donny. Instead of shouting, “I see it,” he yelled, “Quick, hide!”

Overall, it was a great project. My teacher didn’t agree. She felt I hadn’t spent enough time on it. Obviously, she hadn’t seen me the night before when I was putting in the batteries.

So now I needed a new idea.

 

I couldn’t think of anything until my dad walked by with a Diet Coke.

“Pull my finger, Bob,” he said.

I wasn’t going to fall for that one, again. But it gave me a great idea. Gas! I could show the effects of gas.

The next day at school I showed up with a 2-liter of Diet Coke and some Mentos candy. I called my experiment “Nucleation” or “A Big Mess.” I began by inviting the class outside and dropping the Mentos into the bottle. The candy mixed with the soda and caused a huge Diet Coke fountain!

I then drew lots of scientific graphs and explained how the Mentos caused the Diet Coke to give off a lot of carbon dioxide and created a gassy explosion—just like it did with my dad.

“Well done, Bob,” my teacher said. “Much better than last year’s project.”

“Thanks!” I said.

So I learned about chemical reactions, but more importantly I learned not to put off my homework until the last second. Next year’s project will be even better. I just need to find a pilot who can fly a helicopter . . . and isn’t afraid of water!

This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine. Copyright © 2010 by Bob Smiley. Used by permission. Illustration © Gary Locke.