I was judging the School Science Fair that day. Picking a 3rd grader boy from the queue, I asked him to direct me to his project in the school hall. Having gone through the other immaculate projects before, this was a letdown. The board was messy, the file was incomplete, and there were just a few 3-inch high mounds of soil on a carboard in front. The boy seemed shy and unsure.
As a mother, I knew that look, and I told him that he was the bravest 3rd grader I had seen as only he dared to go solo. The words had a magical effect and perked him up. With a beaming smile, he went on to explain his project.
He told us that he was born and brought up in the Valley where we live. It never snows, but during winter you could see the surrounding hilltops covered in glistening snow. He came from a low-income family, had never been outside the valley and always wondered how it would feel to play in the snow. He wanted to find out why it doesn’t snow in the valley and hence the mounds to represent the hills. He had been taking temperature measurements with an oral thermometer of the top and bottom of these 3-inch mounds! I praised him for his inquisitiveness and effort and then gently explained to him what was missing in his process and project. I showed him other projects and ways in which he could improve his own for the next time. He told me that he had no adult to help at home and was shy to ask his teacher as this was an optional activity for his grade. I told him where he could find resources in the school library and to feel free to ask his teacher or me for any help. Even though his project did not win any prize, but for many days after the fair, the budding scientist waved excitedly at me from his school assembly line.
Appreciate every effort.