1. It never hurts to try (No matter how unappealing it sounds) – Although I’m madly in love with biology and chemistry , I never really saw the point of Science Fairs and Exhibitions until one of our College Professor’s made it compulsory for my entire class to present a working model this year. Initially, I was very annoyed because my knowledge of Physics was extremely poor and I did not really want to invest so much time and effort into something that would reap practically no rewards (or so I thought back then) Somehow, these exhibitions never eluded as much charm as say, a seminar or a Conference did, and while I was only participating for a good grade (which is sadly a very wrong approach to have for anything), I am glad I eventually did, because I learnt a hell lot about science and well, about life in general.
2. Think outside the box– While it’s easy to just copy something that requires little to no hardwork but still looks presentable, try to steer away from the road that’s frequently travelled. It doesn’t hurt to try something new (Okay, no. It does) but the experience will always be rewarding (No. Maybe not always) You never know what exciting thing you will tumble upon (This, I mean)
3. Do not procrastinate – Everyone in my class began working on their models only a week before the preliminary round and this is inadvisable because frankly speaking, seven days is just too less a time to produce anything worthwhile. Our copper wires, batteries and neodymium magnets arrived just two days before the submission date and only God knows how frantic my best friend and I were , working all day and night, trying to make the wretched thing work. But sadly it didn’t. Our battery kept getting stuck in the circuit and we finally had to show the working of our model manually. After all the effort we had put in, the final outcome came as a bitter disappointment. So the moral of the story is, start sooner so that you can still have enough time to restart (if necessary)
4. YouTube videos are misleading– There was this really cool experiment we saw on the net , whose principle we decided to use in our model to represent a very different concept. We did everything we possibly could to replicate the conditions in the video, but no no no. Nothing worked. All those failed trials resulted in a lot of pent up frustration and anxiety which could have been easily avoided if I had just used my brains in the first places.
5. Seniors and teachers are helpful people- There is not a single teacher we have not been to for advice and everyone had something worthwhile to contribute. Whoever says their seniors are pseudointellectual snobs are definitely kidding themselves because they are SO not. We had this kid from the third year who went out of his way to help us at every step and we are still so grateful for all his help. The passion he had for Physics really inspired us to look at Science in a whole new way and to help nurture this curiosity in my Juniors as well. Do not be afraid to approach your peers and your college faculty for help. You never know how much they really have to offer.
Besides most of them are human beings. Not aliens. At least not in my college.
6. Try again – It’s okay to get it wrong the first few (hundred million) times. If things are not working out, try improving it. If it is not getting improved, change it. A week after our preliminary round (which we did not qualify), my friend and I were talking about how we should have chosen a more practical project for our exhibition, I stumbled upon an idea for Bioplastics out of potatoes.. The procedure looked extremely simple and though the bitter after-taste of our previous failure was still lingering , I decided to give it a shot. Why not try doing something new? Obviously, again we took a lot of help from Youtube videos and it did not exactly go the way we wished it to. But after a lot of hardwork , faculty advice and permutation-combination games with the plasticizers, we did end up producing a good result.Good enough for us to present our work at another stall and receive some rave reviews for our work.
So don’t be afraid of hard work. Just be patient and everything will fall into place.
7. Learn something new– Science exhibitions are a great time for us to step out of the text book and learn something beyond the scope of the curriculum. Working on a concept with our hands helps in indirectly drilling a lot of valuable information in our head, the way a all night cramming session just before an exam, never can.
8. It could be the Start of Something New– As I mentioned earlier, science Fairs are a useful platform to try or test a new idea that can be developed for common good. Our tryst with Bioplastics inspired me to conduct a more in-depth research in Biopolymers and to use all the creativity and knowledge I have to construct this experience into something that could potentially help the world in some way.
9. Creativity is vital – Contrary to popular belief, science is not just based on observations and hard core facts but mostly on accidental discoveries and imaginative yet unanswered questions. This is the only time of the year, Science students can be graded not just on the basis of their technical skills but also their artistic ones. It helps us realize, that beneath all those complex formulae, mind boggling chemical reactions and enzyme pathways, science is an art waiting to be interpreted.
10. How Great Thou Art – Working on these projects help us realize that no matter how hard we work, we can never ever reconstruct or replicate even a fraction of the wonderful machinery God has created in us. If it can take us months of sleepless nights to plan and execute the working of just one cluster of genes in one single bacterial cell, imagine how intricately we were made , in the span of minutes, to become something nothing short of masterpieces.
Irrespective of how far science goes, we will never be able to match the perfectly inimitable workmanship of the One above.
Picture courtesy – https://sites.google.com/a/pgcps.org/go-paperless-this-science-fair/home