How Coming to My Senses Earned Me a 3rd Place Science Fair Ribbon Instead of the 1st Place Trophy
Not using a dead cat‘s eyeball was my downfall
In the 1970s, my entire grade school participated in the annual Science Fair. Each class dedicated time every day to research and prepare for the Fair.
As students, we’d visit the Maytag Appliance store to ask for a used box to cut and create a three-sided display board. (Nowadays, you can buy a pre-made poster board from the dollar store.) We’d paint it and decorate the borders with coloured corrugated cardboard.
One year, I teamed up with my friend, Debbie, and we presented on the topic of “teeth.” We visited a dental office and used an old set of dentures as a prop.
Another year, I teamed up with my friend, Deedee, and we presented on the topic of “mould.” We grew our own mould in Petri dishes and demonstrated how different temperatures affected mould grown on bread.
However, I enjoyed the topic of the “eye” best. I teamed up with my friend, Penny, and we created fascinating artwork of cross-sections of the eyeball to show how vision worked.
Although our display looked good, we wanted to win the coveted first place and needed an exceptional prop to do so.
Then one fateful weekend — as we biked along the road — we found it! In the ditch sprawled a dead cat. As sad as a dead cat was to two pre-teen girls, we were too preoccupied with the discovery of its protruding eye. The ball of the eye hung on a string…or a muscle. Or maybe it was the optic nerve. We weren’t concerned with learning the name of the thingy that attached the eye to the socket. We just wanted to detach it.
I lamented the fact that my brother, who always carried a Swiss Army Knife, did not join us on our bike ride. We searched the ditch and found a stick. Poking at the protrusion, we attempted to cut the eye free. But the stick could not do the job.
We tried a rock. It didn’t work.
We attempted to manoeuvre the bicycle kickstand over the cat. But we only succeeded in running the poor thing over with our tires.
We worked on removing the eye until sweat beaded down our foreheads. Then we looked at each other.
What are we doing?!
We squealed, jumped on our bicycles, and rode as fast as our little legs would take us away from the grizzly scene.
However, had we not come to our senses and left the dead cat in peace, we may have earned ourselves the first-place trophy instead of the third-place ribbon.
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