The main reason why I wanted to host a STEM Fair for our homeschool group, rather than a Science Fair, is the options. Kids could do a typical science project, but they could also do something with engineering, technology, or math. I already encourage the kids to interpret the theme as broadly as they'd like, in order to make the fair as accessible as possible to the wide variety of homeschooling kids who we have in our community, and so when Syd said that she wanted to build a table as her STEM Fair project, I didn't even blink.
You probably know by now that when this kid makes a plan, she makes a PLAN! There is a detailed vision behind everything that she creates, whether it's a four-page itinerary for her birthday party or a full-color, multi-sketch mock-up of a dress design. You shouldn't be surprised, then, that Syd's table design was impeccable. I'll let her tell you about it, but be assured, before you hear her build notes, that she came up with this design completely on her own, and built it, other than asking for some assistance with figuring out the drill, completely on her own:
And yes, I DID carry that table back and forth from the car, across the library, weaving my way carefully through the security gate, and into the conference room where the STEM Fair was held.
But back to the kid--isn't that table incredible? I let her pick out exactly the lumber that she wanted from the hardware store, and her speech doesn't lie--she knew exactly what she wanted, in exactly those lengths, and she sat there on the garage floor and fiddled around with layout until she discovered, completely on her own, how to screw the table planks onto the end supports and then the table legs onto that. It was cold outside, though, so I let her do the actually construction in the family room:
I mean, we still have sawdust everywhere from the construction of the built-in shelves, so why not?
This table now stands outside on the back deck, and is a crucial component of Syd's mud kitchen. I had myself a perfect moment yesterday, as I was on my way across the room with a mug of green tea spiked with honey and lemon, and I spotted Syd through the sliding glass door, deeply immersed in her mud kitchen play. She had a couple of toy ponies out there, and she was talking to them, or making them talk, as she patted down a moss-covered mud pie into a metal tin that I'd bought her specifically for mud pie making from Goodwill a couple of weeks ago. I looked at her, looked at my mug of tea, thought about my other kid on her way with her father to go clean tack at the stables with some other Pony Club kids, and thought, "Hey, I'm doing this right!"
There's a lot of self-doubt involved in parenting, and a LOT of self-doubt involved in homeschooling, but for that one moment, watching a kid play at a table that she built herself, everything, including me, was perfect.