The Science Fair 20 Years later, and a Belated Thank You

January 16, 2009

Yesterday, I judged the Science Fair at the elementary school where my wife, Kim, teaches kindergarten–and I had a blast! It was about time I gave something back, in the Science Fair arena, considering how much it has given me.

It brought back some good memories that I shared with Kim, and I thought I’d put those in writing here.

I was in 4th grade in 1988-89, when I did my Science Fair project on Nintendo. Actually, it was placed in the Sociology category, which was technically part of the Social Studies Fair, but they were all judged together. With that project, I eventually won first place in my school, then the region, and then the state of Louisiana.

I learned quite a bit along the way, about the scientific method, competition, writing reports, creating charts, presentation skills, and data treatment. I surveyed a few hundred kids about what they liked about Nintendo and why, tallied up the results, drew conclusions, and gave a verbal presentation on the whole project. My mom was actually my 4th grade teacher (and drill sergeant), and she impressed upon me the importance of research and attention to detail.

I interviewed several people involved with Nintendo, including a developer in the Seattle area. It’s been 20 years now, but I still owe her a giant, belated thank you. She left a huge impression on me. Looking back, it was pretty much at that point, at 9 years old, that I decided I wanted to be a computer programmer. I wrote my first programs in BASIC later that year, and I made the mental shift from looking at games and software as something I could play and use, and instead as something I could create myself. And I’ve been pretty much doing it ever since.

So wherever you are, Ms. Tana Lemke, thank you!

:-Dustin

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