School Projects – WTF?

I’m all for projects to be done at home. In fact anything that helps promote parent/kid time gets my thumbs up but I really don’t get the competitive culture behind it all. Everyone has heard about the kids parents that built the volcano for their kids science project and about the only thing the actual kid did was carry it into school. It hit the news again last week in the US when an easter egg hunt was cancelled because the parents were becoming to competitive.

The most recent one in our case was Findlay’s class project on the Titanic. He came running into the kitchen last week shouting that he had to build a model of the boat with a parent and he’d chose me so that he could make it out of LEGO. At the time I thought it was a great idea but what I hadn’t thought about was the fact that unless we built it to micro-scale we had no where near enough parts of the right colour and no where near enough time to actually build it as it usually takes us weeks to finish anything we start without instructions.

Time went on and we both completely forgot about it until parents night came along and I sat in his class room with Vonnie and his dad. His teacher brought the subject up and that it was due in the following week. We joked a little about hot glue guns and papercraft and Findlay’s dad jokingly past comment about how he’d managed to dodge a bullet again. Looking at the other kids boats that had already been brought in suddenly had me saying we would make it twice as long as the biggest one and big enough to use LEGO minifig’s to scale. I’m not competitive in any way shape or form usually so this surprised me a little.

The day it was due came and went and Findlay hadn’t done anything and I’d completely forgotten about it yet again. Unfortunately Findlay was staying at his grans that night so we had to aim for today which was the final final FINAL day he could hand it in. It’s the last day before the school breaks up for Easter so I can see why we couldn’t get any more time…

We sat down when we got home from the school run to work out what we were going to build. The big massive huge ship was out the window purelybecause of time constraints, the LEGO ship had been forgotten about weeks ago, and smaller amalgamation of the two just never seemed to get off the ground. Findlay went away to work out what else he could do whilst I made dinner and eventually after much heated discussion and realisation of just how long it would take I sent Findlay off to draw up the building schematics as something else to hand in whilst I set about actually building the boat. I didn’t want to do it this way as I always end up doing the grunt work but we just couldn’t do it any other way.

To make things a little easier I’d found a small 1200:1 papercraft model to base our ship on. This thing would have been tiny and taken weeks to make if done correctly but it gave me a rough shape of the hull and fittings that I could scale up to use with the cardboard we had loads of. Two hours into cutting out the basic shapes though and I was ready to give up and get him to tell his teacher he tried to bring it to school but it sunk at the bottom of the street.

The cardboard we were using was stuff I’d looked out for the much bigger initial design we had so it wasn’t very easy to use on this scale which I think worked out at something like 600:1.

Anyway midnight came along and I’d barely got the hull of the ship built but as I’d already done most of the cutting and shaping it was coming together quite quickly. You can tell though that the pieces aren’t as precise as they would have been if they were cut out from thin card rather than roughly traced and resized onto corrugated cardboard. It was sturdy enough though.

I think at around 1am I had finished building and started on the base coat of paint. I say think as I actually have no idea when I got to bed and midnight onwards is a little hazy. The hull was painted and the only thing left to actually attach to the ship were the funnels which were painted a nice bright red. After all this I went to bed only to be woken up by the kids at around 6.30am. It wasn’t much longer after this when Findlay pointed out that the funnels should be yellow and our yellow paint wouldn’t go over the red so it was back out with the paper and card to make new ones.

We never had time to finish it off. There are no details on there. The radio mast and wire hasn’t been put on and there are no lifeboats either. I think it looks OK though without all that and would probably look worse if we had put on all the port holes and other details. It doesn’t come close to some of the others that were made though. Someone actually made a cake in the shape of the Titanic! Anyway we shipped Findlay off with the model and his schematics this morning so I hope it is well received.

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