Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 6:15 am | Fair 66º


She Said, Z Said: Planning Early for a Science Fair of the Future

Experimental phase helps craft ideas whose time will come

Z: “Pants May Power Your iPod.” Easily my favorite L.A. Times headline in a long time.

She: Your pants have been calling me on your cell phone for years. What’s the big discovery?

Z: UC Berkeley researchers are making fibers that use piezoelectricity to create power, and then sewing them into clothes. This is what I want Koss’ science fair project to be about.

She: The science fair that isn’t for another two years, when he goes to junior high school?

Z: Yup.

She: The science fair that you’ve been coming up with a new project for him every six months for the last 10 years, whenever there’s some question you have?

Z: That would be the one.

She: In that case, yes, “Pants Power Your iPod” is a great experiment. I’ll get him right on it.

Z: You say that like you don’t mean it.

She: No, I think it’s an excellent idea. Given how twitchy you are, how much you tap your foot, you could probably power the whole house.

Z: That would be sweet.

She: But are you sure there aren’t some other experiments you wouldn’t rather have him do?

Z: Well. I am still curious about body temperature. I read somewhere that it’s not really 98.6° F, so I want him to take a bunch of people’s temperatures to determine what it really is.

She: That should go over well.

Z: I think cold fusion experiments might be outside his realm of expertise, but it would be nice if he could invent a new source of limitless, clean energy.

She: I thought that’s what the pants-power was all about.

Z: I also want to know how much carbon would be taken out of the environment if In-N-Out raised the temperature in their meat-locker-cold restaurants by just a few degrees. It would save the environment and we wouldn’t have to put on long underwear to go eat a Double-Double.

She: There’s a study that actually makes sense to me. That’s a little disconcerting.

Z: Or, he could devise an experiment to determine the perfect toilet paper thickness. Single-ply? Double-ply? Honestly, I’m not sold on the whole super plush thing.

She: Me neither. And since he’ll be there anyway, I’d like to have him do some hard research to clarify once and for all why it costs $500 every time I go to Costco. I know intuitively that for every item you put on your Costco list, you will stumble on seven other items you can’t live without, but I think I’d see the logic much better if Koss were to apply some of your scientific rigor to it.

Z: I think you’re a little confused about what scientific rigor is.

She: Obviously. I’ve been confused about science since elementary school, where I learned in English class that “i” goes before “e” except after “c,” and then it was time to open up our scIEnce textbooks.

Z: A spelling kerfuffle killed your understanding of physics?

She: Yep. I’d also like to see him do some investigation into my Eeny Meeny Miny Mo Of Destiny theory (EMMMOD, patent pending). It’s quite genius, if I do say so myself.

Z: You’d be the one.

She: I’m afraid with 73 percent of my genes, Koss would probably do better by concentrating on the book fair.

Z: You think?

She: I’m just trying to encourage his natural abilities.

Z: There’s actually one thing that’s a little discouraging with all my science fair plans for him.

She: What’s that?

Z: Every time I give him a new idea, he says, “That sounds like a great idea, Dad. You should do that.”

She: Ahh. He’s experimenting with being a tween.

Z: What is a tween? Is there a standard definition for that age? I wonder if there’s some way to measure what the official tween years are? I should have him do that for the science fair.

She: Yes, dear.

— When She and Z aren’t thinking up science projects, they can be reached by e-mailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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