Monday, November 29, 2010

The Story of my Science Project

It was a chemistry project that I was working on in eleventh grade. The topic was really interesting, the chemistry of colours.

Our team worked on fireworks, dyes both natural and man-made, cosmetics and preservation of ancient colours and so much more. I was in charge of the presentation, so I had to know everyone's topics. I took notes and researched so much. The highlights of the presentation was a clever superposition of slides with three torches – Red, Blue and Green. Depending on the sequence of how you click them, using links, gradients and other things, the colours will change ultimately culminating in white (I couldn't resist dedicating a few slides to the physics of colours). The fireworks section was very vibrant and their chemistry was startlingly simple.

Before I get engrossed in my highly enlightening research, I'd better get to the highly wonderful incidents I had to put up with in my all-girls school.

1. Girls, make that model better. You know girls can't win science projects.
My non-verbal reaction – It's not a competition, it's an expo.

2. Preservation of artefacts – Girls Style

While the more sincere of us were studying this area, my juniors had fabricated a very innovative and realistic model.

Preservation of mummies
Preservation of Pompeii in volcanic ash (two models before and after eruption)

Did I mention the project title was Chemistry of Colours?

I ran to the staff room.

Me: Ma'am, the juniors are completely ruining everything.
Ma'am: What happened now, Sowmya?
Me: They're making models we didn't ask them to do.
Ma'am: Yes yes. I only asked them to make those models.
Me(controlling my anger and hoping she didn't notice my red ears): Mam, but why?
Ma'am: Your orbital model was excellent. But we need something else to fill the stall.
Me: Ma'am, but pyramids???
Ma'am: Don't worry ma, I have a class now. The co-ordinator was very impressed with the excitation model. It really doesn't matter what the other models are as long as they look good. I am actually thinking of flyers like red for danger hanging from the ceiling, it'll be colourful. You are too sincere(walks out).

I look at her retreating silhouette in utter disbelief.

3) Ultimate Insult

On the very first day of the expo, I was invited to the inauguration graciously by my teacher for putting so much effort. Personally, it was really good for my low blood pressure.


Well apart from the fact I fell down a flight of five steps on my way down and got my finger stuck in a hinge while arranging the stall and screamed until everyone came to our stall and I nearly passed out until some girl practically wrenched my finger from it and people sniggered about sissiness, it was not eventful enough to irritate me.


For the presentation, I needed a computer. It was not to be found. Finally the co-ordinator got this huge vehicle filled with monitors, keyboards and CPUs. My friend carried everything and got it for me to fix.

I got down to business. I had a Wearnes PC around a decade old at home with a 12.5 GB (2.5 + 10 addition) with old-style serial ports. They were very confusing and my very scientific method of selecting them was to plug them into every socket and see which fits. So prepared, for the worst, I took the serial interfaces.

Surprise! They were USBs. Plus, the CPU had cute graphics illustrating which was for the keyboard and which was for the mouse. Only, the power port was old-style and easy enough. Brilliant!

I should have known it was too good to be true.

There were separate power sources for monitor and CPU whereas each stall had only one power line. Our extension block was that round rotating type that can support only one three-pin. Soon, I was grovelling to the electrician to give another line. He wrinkled his nose and grudgingly stole the nearby(thankfully empty) stall's line.

He had a tester and checked the two power sources with a speed Rajnikanth would have been proud of and clambered away with his heavy wires. I finally plugged both of them in.

It did not work.

I disconnected and reconnected everything. I switched power-plugs. Sometimes the monitor would work, sometimes the CPU. It seemed as if there wasn't any power in one of the sockets but my ma'am pulled that thought right out of my head with a “He checked dear”. I was sure something else was wrong. Beads of sweat sparkled on my eyebrow and my hurt finger (which was depressed so much for so long) started to swell up to a disgusting blob.

To my complete horror, two extremely tall (I have a complex about being short) guys from the opposite stall entered. I had been so engrossed that I didn't notice my teacher actually go and ask them for help. They were extremely polite and checked my handiwork. Speech wouldn't rise to my lips. My teacher had grossly under-estimated me. And it really hurt because it was a computer.

Well, they didn't find anything wrong.

Not immediately anyway. One of them casually said that it probably was a power problem.

My teacher thanked them profusely for “figuring it out”.

The grumpy electrician was called again.

It finally worked.

There was no PowerPoint.


  1. loved reading this.specially the artefacts part :D
    the science expo was one of the most enjoyable times at school.
    and you neglected to mention the identity of the two "extremely" tall guys who "helped" us out :D

  2. somebody suggested we should have been given some special recognition for being so artistic or colourful. It would have been highly appropriate considering it was a chemistry exhibition. anyway, a blog from you was long overdue and what better name to give it!!! i love you and your stories. i have and will always!!!(am wiping the tears...)

  3. Hey Purnima, I'd rather not :-P Nisha: THANK YOU :-)