Sunday, October 27, 2013

The State Fair - An Educational Experience

The North Carolina State Fair has been a family tradition at our house since my 14 year old son was one years old.  We have always LOVED the Fair with all it's sights, sounds, tastes and rides.  One of the things we have not done until this year, was to take advantage of the scavenger hunt available online to print off and take with you to the Fair.  So this year we decided to take a more educational approach to the Fair and see what new dynamic if any, that would bring to our Fair going experience.

I can say that it definitely added a LOT more to our experience this year.  We saw things we didn't even know the Fair had!  We experienced things that were educational in the areas of Agriculture, Chemistry, Engineering, Horticulture, Art and Math!  It totally changed how I look at the Fair and made it a much more rich experience.  We will definitely be doing the scavenger hunt as a tradition each year.  We even decided next year we would enter some of our projects into the 4H contests since we saw many things that we have done in Wonderful Wednesdays!  So you'll have to stay tuned next year and see where we place!  LOL
One of our favorite experiences was in the Agriculture of Today exhibit.  This had a really great section on Chemistry!  They had Campbell University students and teachers there demonstrating a variety of experiments to eager learners.  We had two eager learners!  They got a personal chemistry lesson for about 40 minutes!  One of my daughter's favorites (mine too) was the dry ice experiments.  It all fit so well with Cycle 2 and you know how much I like it when the stars align for the current cycle - LOL.  They showed the girls how the dry ice had two states of matter - solid and gas - that it didn't melt and become a liquid, prior to going to a gas state.  They then showed them how putting the dry ice under pressure would cause it to actually then appear as three stages all at once called the triple point - solid, liquid and gas states all occurring at the same time.  It was fascinating.  Another really fun one was when they had the dry ice in a fish tank and they "filled up" their beaker with carbon dioxide (the gas that dry ice emits as it heats up) then they "poured" this beaker of gas onto a lit candle - it immediately blew out the flame!  They discussed the density of matter (carbon dioxide vs. oxygen) and asked really good questions of the girls to get them thinking about what was really going on scientifically with the
 materials they were observing.  Really cool!  Anyway - I could go on with the other experiments they did but I won't bore you.  :)  The point being that, who knew you could gain access to such personalized, FREE and cool Science at the State Fair??  I was really missing out all these previous years as I stuffed my face full of deep fried Moon Pies and Twinkies - I could have been doing really cool science a few steps away!

Another noteworthy experience was at their Field of Dreams exhibit where they had the kids go through and take a basket - filling it up with a certain number of vegetables and fruits as they walked through and read about the various crops of NC.  When they got to the end, they handed their basket to a person who weighed it and paid them for it with pretend money that they then went into another building to "spend" - helping the kids understand the concept of growing crops, harvesting and going to farmers markets to sell your harvest.

I didn't get a picture of another great exhibit because my memory was full on my camera!  However, it was a vermi-composting exhibit where they let the kids dig through the compost and hold the worms and discussed the process of vermi-composting with them at length.  They really enjoyed that exhibit too!

We also enjoyed the Education Building with all the various 4H exhibits and submissions from schools for Art projects - which is when we thought about submitting our Wonderful Wednesday projects for next year's Fair!  Lastly, we of course, enjoyed the silliness and outrageousness of the Fair itself with walking trees, 10 foot tall cowgirls, rides and magic shows - I mean after all it IS the State Fair - right?

My special needs son loves the Fair - he looks forward to it every year.  His favorite tradition at the Fair is to eat a frozen banana and ride as many rides as he can in a days time before having to leave!  My prayers go out to the family's affected by a serious accident this year involving the rides in which several people were seriously injured, it has given me and my husband pause and we may have to reconsider that tradition too - although after this year's accident they probably will be even stricter/safer next year than ever.  So...I imagine we'll continue the tradition of letting him ride till his hearts content -especially when I get a smile from him like this....  
My closing thoughts are in regards to my experience this year after being diagnosed with celiac disease recently.  (Remember my mentioning the deep fried Moon Pies and Twinkies from years gone by??)  I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy the Fair this year since I would have to forgo all the fabulous tastes that had become such a part of my Fair experience.  I'm thankful that I decided to still go and take a different approach -focusing on the educational aspects instead.  It was so worth it.  While many of you more Fair savvy Moms may be thinking that I've had my head in the sand not realizing all the great educational opportunities before now - I think perhaps it may have been buried in the deep friend Moon Pies and Twinkies - so I'm very thankful this year that I was forced to view the Fair differently and my mind is much clearer without those Moon Pies and Twinkies!
(If your Fair is coming up - go to the Webpage for your State Fair and click on the Educational Links for Teachers - and enjoy!)

No comments:

Post a Comment