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In my state we get the primary school aged kids (8-12) to enter a State Science competition. (In other states and countries - the equivalent may be a school science fair.)

My daughter (9) has some interests in science. She has:

  • tried lots of different slime recipes to get the best results
  • built a pair of unicorn slippers with lights programmable by Arduino for dancing in.

When I ask her about entering these in the competition - she goes quiet and mumbles. She hints that the teacher that runs the competition puts her off.

When I asked her last year about bringing in science experiments to her teacher (whom she loved) she was reluctant. (She would take in the lego compressed air steam engine, but not the slime experiments).

My mother's feeling about the situation is that my daughter feels that teachers take all the fun out of a perfectly good thing to play with and talk to your friends about.

My question is: What do I do to get my daughter interested in presenting her science experiments at the science competition (fair)?

EDIT: Why put an entry in a science competition? A couple of reasons:

(1) because she has pushed beyond what looked easy before (voluntary State Maths and English competitions) and done much better than she thought. (Not to say that underperforming grows you because you learn how to do better and how to be a good sport in that situation)

(2) because this is a way to get recognition for what she is already interested in

(3) because science competitions are a factor in private school scholarships

(4) because science is amazing. Since the enlightenment we have questioned and measured our world and this has lead to longer and more comfortable, and more enjoyable lives.

Note: I need to put this up due to the rules of this site. I’m fine with answers that disagree with the premise of this question.

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    She might be interested, the way it sounds, but there is a reason she doesn't want to. What is that reason? Find that out first. Like you state, she feels put off by the teacher or that the teachers take the fun out of it. Talk to the teachers, find out what is going on. – user20343 Mar 18 at 14:52
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    Can you add some information on what your goal is with this? Why do you want to enroll her in the competition? – Joe Mar 18 at 18:30
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    As an additional note: we have a general site policy against answers that disagree with the premise of the question. As it's written now, you'll get (hopefully) answers that answer your question as asked, but any answer that says effectively "you shouldn't do that" would be deleted as it stands. Is that what you prefer, or do you prefer to entertain answers suggesting you not do this (not attempt to get her interested) and/or discuss whether this is possible? If so, please edit the question to reflect that also. Thanks! – Joe Mar 18 at 18:50
  • @Joe But we don't have a policy against answers that identify an XY problem, which a premise-deflating answer can be :) – Luke Sawczak Mar 20 at 11:46
  • @LukeSawczak Actually, that would violate the policy here for the most part. XY problem is fine for some sites, but not this one. – Joe Mar 21 at 14:46
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I think your question can be generalised to something like the following:

I want my child to do something I think will benefit them, but they are resistant to it. If I don't push them to do it I'm worried they will miss out on learning something important and finding out that what they are afraid of will actually end up being fun. If I do push them to do it i'm worried they will either resent me or build up a wall to the good thing I want them to do.

This is an eternal question we parents face and ultimately is not something we will know the answer to until after the fact.

Because each child, parent, and relationship between the two are unique the correct answer will always depend on that uniqueness. I suggest

  • Make a decision for this science fair (push her to do it and help her overcome her insecurity, or let her skip it and maybe do it on your own together)
  • Do not waiver from your choice or second guess yourself for this science fair
  • after time has passed evaluate the outcome and make an updated decision for the next one

As you can see, my main focus is making a choice and sticking to it when you start getting doubts, as we all do.

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