My Last School Science Fair – Part 1

Two years ago when I was in the 10th grade, my best friend, Aritra and I had made a photosensitive street lighting system for the Physics department of the Science fair. The project was well-liked by all the teachers, but the one person that it failed to impress was the student coordinator in charge of the Physics Department – an obnoxious boy called Rohin Banerji. He tried to get us disqualified from the science fair, continually kicked us out of the laboratory after falsely claiming that we were damaging the apparatuses and finally, barred us from being judged for a prize. My pugnacious behaviour didn’t help matters at all and eventually, the two of us almost engaged in a fist fight. My complaints about him fell on deaf ears and henceforth, we decided that we would never participate in the Physics department ever again.

A year later, still indignant, we decided to change things up and apply for the Chemistry department. Our unusual topic – “Analysis of alcohol and phosphoric acid in soft drinks” – garnered a lot of attention from teachers and students alike. It also meant that we had to carry large amounts of soft drinks to school to perform the requisite tests and thus, the science fair turned out to be like a large party for us, with boys (and teachers!) coming every now and then asking for a refill. The icing on the cake was the fact that we won the second prize and it marked an idyllic end to our penultimate school science fair.

My only regret was that we had missed out on the first prize by a hair and so, I was determined to obtain that elusive trophy with “1st” written on it by hook or by crook. I decided to make a Van de Graaff generator with my friend “Aggi”. Things were looking up – we had bought almost all the necessary materials and were well ahead of schedule. However, the project then ran into a snag and by that I mean Aggi refused to meet up and actually construct the generator. The chat history with him on my phone was flooded with messages like “Not today, maybe next week” and “Sister’s wedding. Can’t come”. He must have dozens of sisters who all decided to get wed in the same month because he never showed up to assemble the generator.

A week from the science fair and I realized that I was clinging on to a sinking ship. I decided to abandon ship and find a new project with a new partner. Time was of the essence and unless I found someone very soon, I would not be able to participate in the science fair. In stepped my saving grace, my deus ex machina – one of my oldest friends, Roy was in search of a partner, and as soon as he found out that I had quit my previous project, he asked me to join him. I was more than happy to oblige him.

Roy called his project “The Blue Bottle Experiment”. The two of us took advantage of a free period and ran off to the Chemistry laboratory to perform the experiment for the first time. I added two spatulas of Dextros, 100 ml of distilled water, 20 ml of NaOH and three drops of Methylene blue to a conical flask. The resulting fluid looked just like ordinary tap water. However, when I shook the flask a bit, the “water” turned as blue as a Manchester City jersey (I’m a fan, okay?). In a couple of seconds, the blue fluid reverted to transparent. Upon witnessing this, Roy exulted in exuberance and promptly got us booted out of the lab by the Chemistry teacher for disturbing him while he was correcting papers. Well, at least we knew that the experiment worked.

Roy was jumping in joy and shaking me by the shoulders while this was happening.

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