Slice of Life: The Ms. Frizzle Incident

I blame Ms. Frizzle.

My first grade son got the idea for his school’s Science Fair (which had more than 100 student projects) from reading one of the Magic School Bus books. It’s the story about rainbows and colors, and pinball machines. In the book, the kids divide up the color spectrum using a prism and a burst of light in order to escape the pinball machine they are stuck inside. My son wanted to recreate that for a display about light and color.

That idea sounded great to my wife and I. We were thrilled he wanted to partake in the Science Fair. His older brothers had had no interest at all, for some reason. My wife worked with him to get his display put together, went out to the local science store to buy a prism, and coordinated the activity, although he did much of the work (you can see that is not the case with some of the displays but I won’t get into that).

The problem was … the light through the prism didn’t quite work.

Maybe we were expecting too much.  We had this vision of a lovely rainbow shooting out of the prism and shining onto the whiteboard. That’s how the Magic School Bus kids and Ms. Frizzle did it. (What? Books aren’t real?) Instead, it took a  lot of twisting of the prism and manipulating of the light to finally create a tiny little teeny rainbow. Talk about letdowns.

You know what, though? My son didn’t care. He loved seeing the color spectrum he created. And the kids who came to his display? They didn’t care, either. They twisted and turned that flashlight and prism and then uttered “cool” when a little rainbow finally appeared. And maybe they learned a thing or two about light and color. Who knows. It was mayhem in the school cafeteria with all of those projects and all of those kids and all of those family members.


I was happy to leave and gulp down some fresh air, and then my son, wife and I stood and stared at the stars for a few minutes. It was a beautiful moment. Lights were all around us, twinkling up in the sky. Science and discovery really is all around you. Maybe that Ms. Frizzle really does know a thing or two about the world.

Peace (and thanks for visiting all this month with Slice of Life),

  1. Sounds like a great project and I love that you let him do it. There is nothing more frustrating to a first grade teacher than to see that the parents did the work…and we know:)
    The smile on his face said it all. He had an idea, he got support, and he succeeded no matter the size of the rainbow!

  2. What a great picture of your very proud rainbow maker. He didn’t seem disappointed at all and he shouldn’t be. He did a super job! Look forward to reading more from you on Tuesdays.

  3. So glad your son was happy to share his knowledge and participate in the fair! You can see his excitement in his face. Thanks for a great slice!

  4. A chip off the old block. He gets it that it’s the process of learning that counts and he is getting very big 🙂 and you have a wonderful way of showcasing the experience with words.
    All wonderful from where I sit

  5. Kids are cool that way, aren’t they?! No perfectionism to hold them back, just joy at what works. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement this month. I’ve loved listening in to your stories too.

  6. I just love how his rainbow was just right for him. Sometimes we grown-ups get in the way. So glad y’all stood back and let him have it his way. Mrs. Frizzle is the bomb. 🙂

  7. What a great culmination to a science fair – to walk out into a starry night! Good for you for taking a moment to stop and for letting him do his project himself!

  8. Kids and science just seem to go together! We spent last week focusing on light and color so your son’s project brought back all the fun we had. Thanks!

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