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Feb 06 2012

Home School Science Fair this NEXT weekend

Aaargh, I think I’m going to have to miss it again. Our local creationist organization is having its yearly creationist science fair at the Har-Mar Mall near Minneapolis on 18-19 February. You can check out photos from a few years back and see that it is typical grade school science stuff, mostly not very interesting with a few that look like the kids are actually thinking. That’s not to knock this fair; you could say the same of most of the secular science fairs.

The difference is 1) this fair requires you to have a Bible verse on your project, and 2) the purpose of the fair isn’t to promote science, it’s to evangelize Christianity.

1) To promote home schools,

2) To show that Homeschool students can do good science.

3) To present our science fair project to non-Christian people. This should be a great Gospel outreach.

We heard about one lady who saw the Science Fair displays at the Mall. She began to read some of the verses on the displays and was convicted to start attending church and get right with God. There are probably other stories like this we have not heard but it shows the power of God’s Word through our program.

Seriously? Look over their examples and their fair ideas. Do any of them look at all like they might convince you to follow Jesus?

Well, if they answered the question “What is God made of?” or better yet, “Why do we have pimples? Did God goof?”, maybe.

57 comments

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  1. 1
    billgascoyne

    “I must decline your invitation owing to a subsequent engagement.”
    Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

  2. 2
    Tualha

    Project: http://xkcd.com/136/ (NSFW)

    Verse: Song of Solomon 1:2 “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”

  3. 3
    Glen Davidson

    May as well turn the kids loose on creation science. They’re as likely to find something that looks plausible to the ignorami as the “creation scientists” or “ID theorists” do.

    Watch your backs, though, Ham and Behe. They’re likely to look at least as smart as you do, giving up on science because, well, it’s science and not magic invocation.

    Glen Davidson

  4. 4
    Felix

    Answers:
    1. God is made of Light, which is Holy and not like what comes out your bulb, so you dumb poopyhead atheists can’t understand until a miracle transforms you into one of us. Ha ha. So there.

    2. We have pimples because of sin. You see, a ribwoman ate a piece of magical fruit because she was deceived by a talking snake…
    Ah, but you pooopyhead atheists can’t understand how glorious and true all this is before a miracle transforms you into one of us. Ha ha. So there.

  5. 5
    Storms

    This kind of event makes me want to picket with a sign that goes something like this:

    The advancement of Creation Science
    The earth
    is flat,
    rests on 4 pillars covered by the vault of heaven,
    is the center of the universe,

    was created in 7 days about 10000 years ago, (but made to look billions of years old as a joke)

    Yeah right, that sounds better…

  6. 6
    slignot

    The list of fair ideas is soul crushing.

  7. 7
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    74. What happens to eyes so you need glasses? Did God design them poorly?

    I would actually like to know what they want to hear as an answer here. It obviously can’t be that God probably couldn’t design a shoelace from a long piece of string, with an instruction manual.

  8. 8
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    53. Were all the animals friendly to man before the Flood? Idea: raise several baby animals like snake and mouse together to see if they remain friends as they are older.

    Er… I guess they expect that no parent will allow that one anyway.

  9. 9
    Gwynnyd

    Those are hilarious!

    7. Does Tanning leather affect C14 content and date?

    Where do I get a home C14 test kit? I really, really want one.

    14. Can salt water and fresh water fish live in the same water or not?
    15. How long can flies survive freezing in a frig?

    Kill things. Give religious explanation as to why this happened.

    19. Can a dog run a maze faster than a gerbil?

    Excuse to talk parents into letting you have a dog and a gerbil. Do you think any of them would build two mazes?

    46. Where are teeth stored?

    By whom? The tooth fairy? Grandma? The dental lab? Sweeney Todd?

    53. Were all the animals friendly to man before the Flood? Idea: raise several baby animals like snake and mouse together to see if they remain friends as they are older.

    Determine criteria for “friendlines” of snakes. Choose species of snake wisely… or does the snake eating the mouse prove the Flood … Fall… wait! What? Is this a trick question?

    66. What color is our brain?

    Break into younger sib’s head to find out. Try and figure out why color of brain matters to Science Fair judges when writing up poster.

    101.If there were aliens, why would they visit humans?

    Give your fiction better plot and character development than found in Bible.

  10. 10
    Anthony K

    Do any of them look at all like they might convince you to follow Jesus?

    It was probably correlation rather than causation. Someone likely to follow Jesus due to a child’s science-fair project was probably just as likely to follow Gaia had they seen the Juicy Fruit wrapper on the ground three steps to their right. $50 bucks this ‘convert’ becomes an apostate the moment she sees something that both shines AND jingles.

  11. 11
    feralboy12

    What kind of science fair doesn’t have one lousy volcano?

    I sort of skimmed through the suggested ideas until my brain started to hurt. I’m guessing no one suggested tested the effect of striped sticks on the markings of the offspring of animals mating nearby.

  12. 12
    Therrin

    She began to read some of the verses on the displays and was convicted to start attending church and get right with God.

    She became a priest? No wait, they just get moved.

  13. 13
    Anthony K
    74. What happens to eyes so you need glasses? Did God design them poorly?

    I would actually like to know what they want to hear as an answer here.

    I’m submitting my project titled, “LensCrafters: See the World Through Satan’s Eyes in an Hour or Less” as we speak.

  14. 14
    Nerull

    Shame they took down the best idea on the previous lists:

    “How much electricity does it take to kill a human? Could do an experiment on a plant.”

  15. 15
    markr1957

    Think I’ll try a scientific experiment to see how long an adult male fundie will stay stuck up a tree if I nail him there through the palms of his hands. Only question is whether I should break both his legs or not.

  16. 16
    Jadehawk

    2. How many shades of skin color are there? Use a paint scanner to test 100 people.

    1)the paper-bag test? really?! :-/
    2)This is the Minnesota Homeschooling community. what are the chances of anyone who isn’t pasty to make it into that sample?

    84. What events caused them to become evolutionists

    does education count as multiple events?

    96. Does morning, night, or the Sun control how tired we are?

    uh…

  17. 17
    Jadehawk
    She began to read some of the verses on the displays and was convicted to start attending church and get right with God.

    She became a priest? No wait, they just get moved.

    “convicted” is Christianese. a “conviction” is a non-reversible change of mind caused by jesus-magic which makes you (more) Christian (if you change your mind, then it wasn’t a conviction after all, just a preference. ergo, if you ever deconvert, you’ve never been a Real True Christian to begin with).

  18. 18
    Anthony K

    This is the Minnesota Homeschooling community. what are the chances of anyone who isn’t pastry to make it into that sample?

    is how I initially read this.

  19. 19
    Cosmic Snark

    Our local creationist organization is having its yearly creationist science fair at the Har-Mar Mall

    To be renamed the Har-Har Mall for the duration of the event.

  20. 20
    timberwoof

    What’s Ron Weasley doing at the science fair? Shouldn’t he be off at Hogwarts, working on his postgraduate degree?

  21. 21
    alexanishenko

    From the TCCSA’s list of topics dated April 2008:

    18. Is intelligence influenced by physical attributes. i.e. are blondes “dumb” or does skin color influence intelligence?

    You’ve gotta be shittin’ me.

  22. 22
    Therrin

    Jadehawk,

    “convicted” is Christianese. a “conviction” is a non-reversible change of mind caused by jesus-magic which makes you (more) Christian

    :o Thanks for the correction. I was raised Jewish, and referred to the variations of Xtianity as Jesus Religions, without paying much attention to details.

  23. 23
    radpumpkin

    7. Does Tanning leather affect C14 content and date?

    Yes…because every student owns a mass spectrometer?

    11. Make an experiment to show how Boyle’s law applies to nebula.

    Using the ultra high vacuum setup that also every single student owns? How then are you going to model the gravitational attraction? Sorry, liquids aren’t gonna cut it here, diffusion, solvent interaction, etc…
    PS: “nebulae” is the plural.

    14. Can salt water and fresh water fish live in the same water or not?

    I predict lots of dead fish. Poor things…

    18. Is intelligence influenced by physical attributes. i.e. are blondes “dumb” or does skin color influence intelligence?

    First sentence of the abstract will be: “Although the authors are not racist, but…”

    22. Could a person function without thumbs? or What would it be like to not have thumbs?

    O_O Uhm…careful with the methodology on this one.

    26. Is energy ever destroyed or created?

    Yes…the perfect topic for a science fair. Some long rant regarding vacuum fluctuations goes here…

    34. What are freckles and why do we have them?

    Because gingers have no soul!

    35. Why does the Bible say there is one glory of the sun, one glory of the moon, and one glory of the stars?

    The hell does that even mean?

    37. Why does liquid water turn to a solid at 32 degrees F.?

    I’m still not sure for what age group this is supposed to be. I suppose would discuss the dynamics of phase transitions, but that hardly seems to be an appropriate level for children. But here’s a better question: how does variation in pressure affect the freezing point of water? How does the presence of dissolved compounds affect the freezing point? Nice, easy, and you can make some impressive looking graphs.

    48. Is there a way for humans to get to Jupiter? Mars? etc.

    Aren’t the students supposed to do experiments with things they have at home?

    52. What was the weather like before the Flood?
    53. Were all the animals friendly to man before the Flood? Idea: raise several baby animals like snake and mouse together to see if they remain friends as they are older.
    54. Why do they live longer before the Flood?
    56. Why do plants and insects die in the Fall?

    How the hell is anybody supposed to do experiments on this pile of stupidity? And mouse and snake being raised together? Ugh…I predict a full snake, and no mouse – at least if said snake is large enough.
    PS: that should be “did” in 54&56. Grammatically challenged and stupid…wonderful.

    58. Why did God create the moon to control the tides?

    Dafuq? Uhm…to control the tides? Yay, project done!

    65. What affects skin color? Is one color better than another? What was God’s purpose in this?

    Another great “not racist, but…” moment waiting to happen.

    72. What is God made of?

    Glitter and unicorn farts, what the hell kind of question is this?!

    74. What happens to eyes so you need glasses? Did God design them poorly?

    Yes, god designed everybody in my lineage quite poorly. Weird…it’s almost like there’s a genetic component to myopia.

    80. Why did God make pests like bugs and mosquitoes?

    I thought those were the work of some devil thing?

    83. Why do people believe in Evolution?
    84. What events caused them to become evolutionists?

    Satan? It’s always him, isn’t it?

    95. Are humans mammals? We thought they were made in God’s image and not related to animals.

    You’re not supposed to give away the solution!

    103.Where was the Garden of Eden? Is it around today?

    Testing…how?

    105.What are aliens and are there really any in our world? see Lamentations 5:2, Eph 2:12, Heb 11:34.

    oO Sure, why not.

    There are a fair number of interesting questions and problems in there, but also a huge bit of batshit insanity. One thing to keep in mind is that “why” questions are incredibly difficult to answer. If you want to do science, focus on “how.” And for the love of everything bourbon related, don’t try something like determining the shape of outer space. Everything can be made interesting, and 99.9999999% of the audience of science fairs will lack the necessary mathematical/scientific background to follow anything more complicated than a bloody vinegar+backing soda volcano.

  24. 24
    Anthony K
    35. Why does the Bible say there is one glory of the sun, one glory of the moon, and one glory of the stars?

    The hell does that even mean?

    It means the bible would be a much more interesting book if its authors had known of the existence of (black) holes.

  25. 25
    wormman

    I’m frequently called upon to judge primary school science fairs and I must say I’m happy to report a distinct increase in the number of potato batteries submitted as projects over the last 12 months.

  26. 26
    a3kr0n

    I wish the Christards would quit giving home schooling a bad name. There really are times when it’s best. I wish I had been home schooled, or maybe Charter. I think I wouldn’t have such a fucking mind block against public schools if I had.

  27. 27
    jessicamear

    @26

    Me too. Homeschooling has saved my kid. There are a lot of really science-minded homeschoolers out there. Sure you have the fundies, but at least they are only affecting their own. Fundies in the classroom affect everybody’s kids.

  28. 28
    Trebuchet

    At least somebody built a decent looking little trebuchet for that past fair!

  29. 29
    capnxtreme

    #7: Just wait ’til they figure out that all the photocells are actually wired in backward. That blew my mind. Makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, but not so much for a supposed omnipotent creator. What exactly was God thinking?

    #26: The Christian persecution complex hard at work, they’ve got to combat the public school system’s liberal agenda somehow! It’s depressing to see homeschooling abused by religious nutjobs who don’t want to expose their kids to real life until it’s too late.

  30. 30
    Synfandel

    80. Why did God make pests like bugs and mosquitoes?

    And do we know for certain that pests do like bugs and mosquitoes?

  31. 31
    glenmorangie10

    Today my four year old and I put an apple slice on a plate, an apple slice in water, and an apple slice in orange juice. Now we’re waiting to see what will happen. It’s like we just want to see how things work, according to what we can observe. Bible-free science feels so empty.

  32. 32
    robro

    Nothing made god, so god is made of nothing. God is nothing.

    We have pimples for the same reason we have sexual organs and brains to drive them…unintelligent designlessness. That’s why we start getting pimples at the same time we start wanting to have sex.

  33. 33
    gburgatheist

    I’m a High School math teacher in Maryland. Anecdotal evidence suggests, there are 4 types of students that come through my classrooms and I’ll rank them as I have seen them.
    1. Public School system kids. They rank at the top.
    2. Foreign students, even with limited language abilities, there is respect for education.
    3. Private school kids…ugh, what are they teaching them.
    4. Homeschoolers? Why bother?

  34. 34
    otrame

    53. Were all the animals friendly to man before the Flood? Idea: raise several baby animals like snake and mouse together to see if they remain friends as they are older.

    Actually, the snake and mouse thing would work, which the author probably knows. It is important to make sure your snake actually eats a live mouse pretty quickly, otherwise it gets used to it being around and may refuse to eat it. Of course, you shouldn’t be feeding your snake live animals anyway. Frozen mice are safer (after being suitably defrosted, of course), as live mice may bite the snake, which can very easily cause fatal infections.

    What I don’t understand is how that is supposed to show anything other than a fairly minor fact of the behavior of non-very-bright animals. It is a stretch to call it a “science project” and I fail completely to see what it has to do with animals being nice to humans before the fall.

  35. 35
    peterh

    Will any of the exhibits examine the vocal behavior of turtles?

  36. 36
    Steve Caldwell

    Well one could use Ezekiel 23:19-20 as a Bible verse related to an animal husbandry science fair project.

    :^)

  37. 37
    evilDoug

    Their fair fare is fairly foul.
    The ideas suggest to me that the list creators know bugger-all about science. Very few suggestions encourage scientific methods. The word “evidence” appears once – in the name of a video recommended as reference material. The few experiments suggested almost all involve torture of small animals. Many “whys” are really “what is happening when” – and, as radpumpkin points out, answering “why” is often almost impossible – barring the use of “goddidit” (which doubtless would please the organizers). #3, “make a computer model of the Flood currents”, probably just means that whoever wrote it has no concept whatsoever of what a computer model is – the alternative being expectation of work that ought to earn a PhD. Perhaps the list is deliberately intended to plant only minimal hints, but I doubt it. To me, it just looks badly done.
    I realize that science fair projects for young kids are often learn-about-and-present undertakings, which are not without value, but most of that list is dismal. And it isn’t going to help shore up belief in Jeebus.

  38. 38
    ChristineRose

    Pimples, less than perfect DNA, myopia, and disease in general are caused because a woman listened to a walking, talking snake and ate fruit. What I can’t tell you is what that has to do with science. Obviously you couldn’t test the fruit theory and if you test around it you find plenty of evidence that humans and their imperfections and pathogens evolved long before the alleged date of the fruit incident. They should rename the whole thing “Juvenile Apologetics Research Fair.”

  39. 39
    evilDoug

    wormman @25

    Just curious – have you ever seen a kid explain why you can’t put multiple sets of electrodes in one potato and connect them in series for higher voltage?
    Anybody ever do cathodic protection with a potato cell?

  40. 40
    evilDoug

    wormman,
    Doh! Just re-read your comment – what I asked would be way beyond primary kids.

  41. 41
    GrudgeDK

    This would be fun! I’d chose one of the ones citing Unicorns, and the cite all kinds of obviously make believe sources and primarily from sources christfags don’t approve of like My Little Pony, the D&D monster manual, Harry Potter, Wolfmother lyrics, the list is practically endless. I mean how can the concept of the unicorn exist if it isn’t real? Then suggest that all of these important documents get canonised by the RCC, just in case such important documents one day disappear.

    She began to read some of the verses on the displays and was convicted to start attending church and get right with God.

    Freudian slip? Churchgoing really is some sort of punishment? While I’ve always suspected the latter, the evidence seems to support the former.

  42. 42
    Regular Joe

    Love the warning for #8:

    How much voltage or current can a human take before he is killed? (This is a to be a literature search, NOT an experiment.) What sorts of shocks have been known to kill people and how much have people tolerated and lived? What is it about electicity that kills? Would the same thing be true of plants.

    Answer to #72 What is God made of?:
    1 package of spaghetti pasta
    1 package meatballs
    1 jar sauce
    In a sauce pan, heat sauce and meatballs just to a simmer.
    In a large pan, bring 4 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente (8-10 minutes). Drain.
    Pour sauce and meatballs over cooked spaghetti. Stir.
    Add one large miracle. Spaghetti and meatballs with sauce will them become invisible, omnipotent, omnipresent, and able to levitate (fly).
    Worship as desired, until raptured to a place with a beer volcano and stripper factory.

  43. 43
    Anthony K

    Sure you have the fundies, but at least they are only affecting their own.

    How so? Is there a stipulation that home-schooled kids must get frozen in carbonite just before they reach voting age?

  44. 44
    Inaji

    GrudgeDK:

    Freudian slip? Churchgoing really is some sort of punishment? While I’ve always suspected the latter, the evidence seems to support the former.

    Nope, it’s standard Christian witnessing talk. The conviction of (or by) the holy spirit. It’s supposed to make you feel guilty and deeply ashamed of your sins and all that, so you run off to Skydaddy.

  45. 45
    wormman

    evilDoug @39-40

    I’m not saying any of them worked – Most of them were just “I made this and it didn’t work – potatoes don’t make good cells or batteries”. Some tried comparing to other fruits and vegetables. At least one tried to do a passable mock-up of the GLaDOS apparatus even down to the correctly coloured wires.

  46. 46
    chigau (違う)

    They could wave striped sticks in front of mating animals to effect the color of they offspring as in Genesis 30:37-39
    “Mommy what are those doggies doing?”
    “Never mind! Get in the house!”

  47. 47
    kantalope

    I’m confused with the snake experiment. You can overcome the effects of the “the fall” by having the snakes lie down with the mice?
    Or is the outcome of this experiment altered by the crucifiction and how could you compare before the fall / after the fall before jesus / after jesus?

    And then there is this from the TCCSA fair ideas link — talk about not understanding how science works: “Evolutionists ask this question:
    How can I prove that evolution is true (and for some, there is an ulterior motive to prove that God does not exist). This may not be stated in this way, but is inferred by their writings. Darwin and others have said that if evolution is true, there is no need for God.”

    See real scientists start with their conclusion and then work backwards just like creation scientists – they won’t say that but it is inferred (projected) from me to you.

    And as for number 111: everyone knows that clouds are white because they are made from Ymir’s brain matter.

  48. 48
    drummer25

    This has been the most hilarious thread ever. I’m sitting here helpless, with tears of joy running down my cheeks at the brilliant send-ups. The combination of wit and erudition is priceless! Makes you glad to be alive, to be atheist and to have found Pharyngula. Thanks to one and all.

  49. 49
    komponist

    The snake and mouse bit is easy. Just put a hog-nosed snake (almost exclusively a toad-eater) or a mud snake (which usually eats only a very specific type of large salamander) or any one of a number of non-mammal-eating snakes in with the mouse, and they’ll live peacefully together (unless, of course, the mouse kills the snake by crunching through its backbone, which, as any herp fancier can tell you, is not an uncommon occurrence). We have to keep our snakes straight here!

  50. 50
    sisu

    aargh, I think I’m going to have to miss it again.

    PZ, if you go, will you promise to post about it beforehand? I usually avoid the suburbs like the plague, but I would pay money to see what happens when they confront you with the “scientific evidence for creationism.”

  51. 51
    interrobang

    GrudgeDK, could you please not say things like “primarily from sources christfags don’t approve of”? I’ll ask you nicely. Josh and any number of the commentariat who are queerer than I will jump down your throat and tapdance on your spine. And you’ll deserve it.

  52. 52
    David Marjanović

    One thing to keep in mind is that “why” questions are incredibly difficult to answer. If you want to do science, focus on “how.”

    No. All “why” questions are “how” and “what” questions.

    “Everything is the way it is because it got that way.”
    – J. B. S. Haldane

    “Why did this happen” is the same as “how did it happen”, “what influenced it”, “what would have happened under other circumstances” and so on.

    less than perfect DNA

    DNA can’t be perfect in the first place. It falls apart when stored in water. A big chunk of our metabolism goes into nothing but constant DNA repair.

    And yes, an intelligent designer would have had plenty of other options. Protein nucleic acid comes to mind.

    How so? Is there a stipulation that home-schooled kids must get frozen in carbonite just before they reach voting age?

    Thread won.

  53. 53
    drbunsen, le savant fous

    DNA / falls apart when stored in water.

    *blink*

    Huh. I’ll be pondering that new piece of data for a while. Thanks.

  54. 54
    GrudgeDK

    Nope, it’s standard Christian witnessing talk.

    I don’t get it. I’m pretty sure there is no context in which convicted, that is the act of becoming a convict, is a positive connotation.

    I’ll ask you nicely. Josh and any number of the commentariat who are queerer than I will jump down your throat and tapdance on your spine. And you’ll deserve it.

    Sure, but I don’t see why. Being a christfag has nothing to do with an individuals degree of queerness (although that there was a scale to begin with is news to me). It just seems an appropriate insult to men, who unconditionally love Jesus (who by all accounts was also a man), yet for some reason are violently opposed to homosexuality (some times, like in Matthew Shepard’s case literally so). I realize that it’s kind of a “drive-by insult”, but I have yet to find one that has the same bite, is still considered an insult by christians, but doesn’t offend anyone else. For some reason they don’t think simply being called a christian is offensive. I used to call them christophiles, but there are actually people who take that as a compliment.

  55. 55
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @stephenburrows (#33:)

    Umm, that list is demonstrably full of unfair generalizations. While myself and my sister may not be the best math students ever (I have discalculia, she never really bothered) I have to say that there are many public school students who fail math significantly as well as those homeschooled students who surpass the public school.

    In fact, being homeschooled helped me in many other areas of the curriculum simply because I was advanced beyond the rest of the public school students and my history of schools kept me in public school bored and successful (except when the teachers saw fit to “fail” me because of unbelievably stupid reasons (3rd grade – dropped down a few letter grades because I wrote in Denelian script rather than Ball-and-Stick script; 4th grade – dropped down a letter grade because my method of doing math wasn’t the same as what she taught, even though I got the right answer every time; 5th grade was good admittedly; 6th grade – teacher said I was ADD and I needed to be on Ritalin and as long as I wasn’t, she dropped my grade; 7th grade – mostly my own doing since I was too scared of being killed after school that my grades were failing.))

    So yea, take your “homeschoolers are stupid” and stuff it up your ass.

    @GrudgeDK:

    When someone says “[insert word here] is offensive” you should say “oh I’m sorry, I’ll refrain from using it in the future.” You should not give a treatise on why it’s inoffensive. If you find you’re going to give an explanation of why it’s inoffensive, then stop and refer to my first sentence.

  56. 56
    GrudgeDK

    @Katherine: I didn’t say it wasn’t offensive. I’m quite aware it’s offensive. I explicitly said so. Repeatedly. The whole point of using the word was to be offensive. To Christians, Regardless of sexual orientation. I use it, as I explained simply because my limited English vocabulary lacks an offensive word for Christians that doesn’t do collateral damage.

    So yea, take your “homeschoolers are stupid” and stuff it up your ass.

    Agreed the quality of a student is less about what type of school she’s from, and more about the quality and amount of teaching materials (commonly, but not necessarily, books) exposed to.

  57. 57
    drbunsen, le savant fous

    my limited English vocabulary lacks an offensive word for Christians that doesn’t do collateral damage.

    That’s the lamest excuse yet.

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