Science Fair Project


FIRST EDITION, February 2004
Little People Press,
Wantagh , NY   

All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced or transmitted  in any form or
by any means without the expressed permission
of the author.  John Canivan


SNOW & SUN                              Dec 23, 2003

Thick snow on our back porch roof reflected the sunlight that heated my room. The hissing radiator was unnecessary. I opened the double hung and slid back the storm to let in the fresh smell of new snow. Dad was downstairs going through a stack of bills on the kitchen table. He was mumbling something about the price of oil. 

“God dam oil prices”, he said as he thumped up the stairs and pushed open my door. “What the hell you trying ta do boy, heat the universe? Close that window or sleep outside on the snow you like so much. Maybe you could write about the experience.”  

Sometimes fire came out of Dad’s mouth when he got angry. Just because my sister, Brenda, was a child genius and my brother Tom was war hero I shouldn’t have to bare the brunt of parental disapproval. A second hand copy of The Hobbit slid from a pile books on my desk. It opened to that page toward the beginning of the book where the dwarfs set out on a nasty adventure and Bilbo reluctantly joined them. I continued to stare out the window wondering if my friend, Bilbo Cassidy ever actually enjoyed the adventures I dragged him into.  

          “You gonna spend the day gawking, Son?” asked Dad.
“Well somebody has to gawk.  Snow is something to gawk at. If you were snow and nobody gawked how would you feel?”
“Your sister Brenda is busy with her science fair project shouldn’t you be working on yours? By the way, son, what have you prepared for the big night? Hope yar not planning on heating the Universe?”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing, as long as I don’t have to foot the bill.”
“Actually, Dad, I have no plans and no project.”

  “Well I got an idea for you, son. How about this new decking material they came out with that replaces pressure treated wood?”
“Hey that sounds great. Maybe Brenda can help me put that kind of project together.”  

Dad looked confused and a bit upset when I decided to seek Brenda’s advice on a construction product. After all he’s the home improvement contractor in the family with all the scars, tattoos and broken bones to prove it, but then Brenda’s the child prodigy who happened to have skipped three years of schooling. She is the one we all go to with our problems. Her computer was on and her printer was humming when I entered her room.  


Brenda’s Room



“What ya doing Brenda? Need any help?”  
“Nice of you to offer Rudy, but I can handle it. Now tell me the real reason that you’re here. Bet you’re still undecided on a project.”  

 I tried weaseling and said I had no problem with original thought, but she knew I was lying. Brenda locked her door and made me sit under the west window sill where our house cat, Captain Midnight, spread out in the afternoon sun. An outsider may think it strange to be dominated by a 12 year old girl and her cat, but if you were in my family you’d understand.




          “What’s important to you Rudy,” she asked

          “I don’t know. Dad said I should do a report on pressure treated wood substitutes.”

          “Is that what you’re into.”

          “Well I don’t know.”

          “That’s what I thought. Your heart’s not into it.”

          “So what can I do?”

          “You can just sit there till you come up with something you feel good about. Keep an eye on him, Midnight .”  

          I closed my eyes and wrinkled my nose and still nothing came. Midnight ’s black tail kept beating me on the head. It was difficult to think so I reached into my pocket for the box of Chicklets reserved for just such an emergency.  

          “What are you doing,” asked Brenda?

          “Chewing gum. Is there something wrong with that?”

          “Gum is good. Do you chew it often?”

          “All the time.”

          “That’s true, come to think of it, I rarely see you without gum in your mouth. You must really like gum a lot.”


          I could tell that Brenda had an Idea. It was as though a giant light bulb was glowing above her head.


          “That’s it, she said, chewing gum. You should do your report on chewing gum.”

          “That’s silly. How can I do a science fair project on chewing gum?

          “What’s so silly about it? My report is on the importance of washing food. Do you think that’s silly?”

          “Well yes. Why is washing food so important?”

          “Let’s just say I think washing food is important. If you could see all the germs on an apple you’d understand. If chewing gum is important to you it’s your job to show the world why.

          “But I don’t know anything about chewing gum”

          “The internet can provide all the information you need. I’ll do a yahoo search, for JPGs and some historical blurbs, but you’ll have to put it all together. I bet Bilbo could help with the chemical formula stuff. What’s he up to anyhow?”


Brenda always seemed to perk up when Bilbo’s name came into the conversation.


          “Why do you ask? Do you have the hots for Billy?”
          “Of course not. I’m just curious.”

          “I think you like the little mad scientist.”

          “I do not, and if you don’t stop teasing I’ll tell Dad.”

          “Dad knows Bilbo and I think he’d agree that you two would be a perfect match.”

When I said that Brenda pulled a pillow off her bed and hurled it at me. I ducked, Captain Midnight got broad sided, and a loud screech filled Brenda’s bed room.



          “GET OUT!”


I carefully sauntered over to the door, opened the lock and stood on the threshold, facing Brenda for awhile until she calmed down. Then I said:

          “Touchy, touchy.”


That did the trick. Captain Midnight ran under my legs and forced me to take a step back. I heard Brenda say “I don’t care about Bilbo,” just as the door slammed in my face.


Dad was waiting at the bottom of the steps with a concerned look on his face.


          “What was that sound?”

          “Captain Midnight ?”

          “No the other one?”

          “The slamming door?”

          “That’s the one.”

          “Oh, Brenda got upset when I suggested that she might be attracted to Bilbo.”

          “Women can be a bit touchy about romance, son that’s just something you have to learn. Did Brenda help you gather up information on that construction material we talked about?”

          “Actually I decided on chewing gum for a topic.”


Dad appeared more disappointed than ever. He had hoped I would reconsider, but if I did Brenda would beat me to a pulp the next time our paths crossed. I wanted to please both my father and my sister so I came up with the title: Chewing Gum or Chewing Wood. I wondered what Bilbo would think of that title.


          “Let me think on it Dad, I said. Could you wake me about 3:30 .

So I can talk it over with Bilbo. I need to lie down for awhile first and think”.

          “You got It, son. What’s Bilbo up to these days?”

          “Same old save the world from the Oil Barons.”

          “Ya mean he’s working on a fossil fuel alternative?”

          “That’s right.”

          “I bet his father is rolling his eyes.”

          “Actually Bilbo’s dad encourages him.”

          “That’s something else. Tell Bilbo I’m rooting for him too.”

          “I will if you wake me at 3:30 .”

          “You got it son. Just keep your dam window closed.”


I took a solemn oath to keep my window shut in exchange for a wake up call. I thought about Bilbo’s father, Mr. Cassidy, the oil man who worked with Dad ever since Mrs. Higgins broke the toilet Dad installed. Dad said any toilet would brake under that weight, but Mr. Cassidy insisted that it was installed improperly. He was a good plumber though Dad felt his labor charges were a bit steep.  


Bilbo’s dad delivered oil for a living and did a little plumbing on the side. It may seem strange that an oil man would help his son with oil alternative research but such was the case. When asked to explain Mr. Cassidy would say:

“I hope Bill does discover a cure for the energy crisis. Oil is too precious to burn.”

  Sunlight streaming through my window was bright so I pulled down the shade and stretched out on my bed. A tiny spider scampered across the ceiling and I thought about that first meeting with William R. Cassidy III,   my friend Bilbo.



This nicely bound fully illustrated 8.5 x 11, 51 page, 6 chapter book is about a child's struggle for identity in an uncertain world. Will Rudy really do a science fair project about chewing gum? Will Brenda's project on washing food be acceptable. How about Bilbo? Do you think he'll really find a solution to the Energy Crisis?... and what about Sharon? You haven't met Sharon yet. Come to think of it you haven't met Bilbo.

This beautiful childhood story can be yours for just $15 (shipping included) for US & Canada.
For other areas on our planet the book + shipping is     $ 19

         Science Fair Project     for US & Canada        $15

         Science Fair Project    for other countries      $19


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