This past Saturday, Tim3P0 and I decided that there could be no possible better way to spend Valentine’s Day than to check out a creationist homeschool science fair. We were all ramped up for some mega crazy, after Skepchick reader QuestionAuthority sent this list of suggested topics from the TCCSA. A quick perusal of the list makes it pretty clear that the organizers of this event strongly encourage kids to take on topics in direct opposition to established science.
Walking into Har Mar Mall, I practiced my serious face, as I didn’t want to laugh openly at some well meaning kids’ hard work. After all, it’s not their fault if they are being denied a proper science education. As we worked our way around to each of the thirty or so displays, anticipating something truly awesome in its ignorance of the way science actually works, we were continually disappointed. The projects almost invariably showed a decent understanding of the scientific method, and none of the kids picked any of the hot button creationist topics present on the list of suggestions.
The range of topics selected was broad, and covered all major branches of science. Here are some of my favorites:
You can visit my Flickr stream to view the complete set of full size photos from the event.
The presence of a required bible verse on each display, the citation of god’s design as the ultimate reason for findings in a few projects, and religious tracts on several of the tables served as reminders that this was indeed a creation science fair, but in many cases these seemed almost perfunctory. My impression of at least half of the displays was that the child had first picked a topic they found interesting, and then dug up a bible verse that correlated. In several cases the verse had nothing at all to do with the research, and in at least one case, the results actually contradicted it.
I have to say that for the most part I was very impressed with the work these kids did. I expected to leave the mall feeling sad and disgusted, but I actually came out of it feeling quite a bit of hope for humanity. Whatever else they are being taught, these kids are learning the scientific method, and regardless of the big fat god wall it comes up against in the worldview being imparted to them, I can’t help thinking it’s not that big a leap for them to apply it to that as well. Obviously not all of them will do so, maybe none will, but they are being given the tools.