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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Science Project Battle Royale

Sometimes it takes a lot to get me focused on one thing and one thing alone - focused enough to come up with enough material to write about it, anyway. Sometimes what's even harder is keeping that train of thought either moving forward until I can type it out, or at least pulled into a specific station where I know it will be waiting for me to board once again after rushing about elsewhere.

My mind is often like a little dog, rushing about and distracted by shiny objects, never quite sure how it got to where it currently is, but no matter because there will always be more shiny objects and - look, shiny!

The analogy is more apt when put in the context of how much time my brain apparently devotes to thinking about things that (in the context of the analogy) are like a dog wading nose-deep in crotches.

That out of the way, I can hop a trip back to my particular train of thought and share my thoughts, for those of you anxiously awaiting something about science projects, battle royales, and not mind/dog/crotch analogies:

I was sitting on the train (I can usually procure a seat after the Roosevelt stop) and became aware of the three boys across from me who were talking about South Park. I wasn't paying attention to their conversation, mostly because I had my iPod on, but I couldn't help but gawk at the blast-from-the-past on the seat next to them. It was one of those cardboard science project things. You know, those obnoxiously-large cardboard stand-up deals that folds out to allow papers and "data" to be strewn about it as it borders some display and stands on a table in a gymnasium and is subject to the ridicule of every passing human being - whether you like it or not. Rage built inside of me, a nostalgic rage (if such a thing can exist) brought about by year after year of mindless science fairs.

That's when a thought entered my head: "Who MAKES these things, anyway?" Not the projects, because the answer is an obvious "fifth-graders" or something, but the actual cardboard things. I expect there are factories churning out these bastards, day in, day out. Working with shipping logistics as an analyst, I wondered for a brief moment if they experience seasonality, like a "science fair season" when revenue skyrockets as so many childhoods fall into the abyss of science fair depression. The moment was fleeting, and I was back to thinking about the factories.

There really can't be that many of them, right? Let's say that with the various companies that make them (since there are multiple varieties, as any fifth-grader could tell you) - there's maybe 50 that deal specifically with these sizes and styles of boards. That's one per state in America.

So here's my question:

Who would win in a fight to the death: all of the factory workers in each factory or all of the fifth-graders in that state?

I chose fifth-graders for this scenario because I think it makes it a fair fight. While practically every child from 2nd grade through high school is probably subjected to science fairs, I think that fifth grade is when you're old enough to be expected to know enough about the scientific method to make an actual experiment - but still young enough to be forced to do one and yammered at about not having your parents do it for you. Plus, fifth grade seems like the nice balance between being old enough to fight to the death, but young enough to not know how to play dirty. Which gives the factory workers the advantage. They're probably outnumbered at a 100-to-1 ratio, which raises the question of whether or not each worker could take out 100 children each.

The maelstrom would be fantastic.

My money is riding on the children. They would be hungrier for it, to be honest. With no boards, there could be no science fairs. The workers must perish. Or, I suppose, stop working at the factories. If they all quit, the boards couldn't be made, and it's likeliest that a worker who hears that a mob of bloodthirsty children will kill all the workers would just quit and find a new job that won't result in death-by-anklebiting. Though if the workers all banded together and created traps and schematics and fought dirty - they would certainly stand a chance. There's something to be said for power in numbers, but even numbers would probably succumb to a well-executed rapid-fire nailgun situation.

It wouldn't take long for the children to locate tools and for the smart/crafty ones to operate them and increase their killing potential. Which is why my money still rides on the army of fifth-graders.

I suppose that in the end, mass murder of adult workers would probably be more devastating to the average childhood than any science project. You could call it a moot point. I prefer to think of it as an experiment with no control and no repeatable results. A science experiment, if you will.

Now if only I had some kind of cardboard device with which I could display my findings...

Party-stopper question: Who would win in a fight to the death - All of the cardboard project-stand factory workers or all of the science-project-hating fifth-graders?

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