Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Science Fair Blues

It’s the end of the year and we’re going out not with a whimper, but a bang. Yesterday was a preview of the 8th grade Shakespeare performance, the 1st through 3rd grade Science Fair and the beginning of practice for the Samba Contest. Friday is the 6th grade Proteus Project, a fair with the kids sharing their topic of interest. 3rd grade is camping at Marin Headlands and a 4th grader asked me yesterday, “When’s the Cookie Jar Contest?” With next week our last, this is utter insanity, but also great fun.

Oh, and did I mention that next week is the actual Samba Contest, the 8th grade-faculty basketball game, the 8th grade graduation sharing/performances with the rest of the kids, the end-of-year slide show, the Mud-pies dessert and complete control ritual (don’t ask), the Closing Ceremony, the hug-line? And then the next day, the 8th grade graduation? Never a dull moment at The San Francisco School!

But let’s take a moment with the Science Fair. Many years ago, I walked into a class preparing for their Science Fair amidst groans and tears about all the things that were going wrong. I happened to have my guitar and spontaneously began singing about it and by the time I left the class 20 minutes later, The Science Fair Blues was born. I’m a two-hit wonder at my school—The Earth Day Rap and The Science Fair Blues my legacy, both now indelibly part of school tradition for over 25 years. It’s not Blowing in the Wind, Summertime, My Girl or Bach’s Mass in B Minor, but hey, I do what I can.

Soon after the song was composed, a school parent from the San Francisco Zen Center gave a lecture based on my line “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m gonna show it to you.” Some hidden truth there about how all of us are faking it on some level, but hey, here we are and we have to share it with others as if we know what we’re doing. It applies to parenting, teaching, some performing—and hopefully not flying airplanes.

Here’s the text, minus the cool music (which you can find in my book ALL BLUES). Enjoy!


© 1988 Doug Goodkin

The Science Fair was coming, things weren’t looking too good,
Nothin’ was workin’ just exactly like it should.
Everything seemed to be goin’ wrong,
So I sat myself down and I wrote out this song.

I got the Science Fair Blues,
I got the Science Fair Blues,
I don’t know what I’m doin’
But I’m gonna show it to you.

I started my train, it fell off the track.
Put my turtle through the maze, it just lay on its back.
The thing that turned white is not turnin’ black,
But it’s the best I can do, I’m just a Science Fair hack!

I showed them my bird, it flew out the door.
I took out my rabbit, it just pooped on the floor.
My dinosaur model, it crumbled and broke,
I said, “What’s goin’ on? Is it some kind of joke?”

I lit up my rocket and it wouldn’t catch.
I was lookin’ around for another match.
There was none around, so what I could do?
I just sat down and wept with the Science Fair blues.

I plugged in here, I plugged it in there.
I plugged it in the wrong place and it lit up my hair.
I showed them my experiment, but it didn’t work.
So I sat there embarrassed and I felt like a jerk.

I got the Science Fair Blues,
I got the Science Fair Blues,
I don’t know what I’m doin’
But I’m gonna show it to you.

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