Two important things will happen this April (though I concede only one of them is important outside of our household): my eldest son will participate in his first science fair, and the anniversary of the Reagan Administration's first public acknowledgement of HIV and AIDSwill occur. Those two things seem completely unrelated, but in my world they are very tightly linked. My elementary school science fair project was originally titled "Germs", until my mother corrected me on the term and had me title it "Disease-Causing Microbes" (thanks, Mom). I had always found disease interesting, and the science fair seemed like the place to act on it. My mother, a nurse practitioner with an MPH, was a willing resource and shared many of her books. I began making a poster with lists of the different types of "germs" (er, disease-causing microbes). While I was working on a column about viruses, she told me that I had to put "AIDS". I replied that it wasn't in the books and she, her voice strained, agreed. "But it will be someday, and it's important that you add it."
In hindsight, I get it. I get the strain in her voice, and her insistence that this newfangled AIDS thing was a big deal. I was a little girl, and I didn't know that people were dying of a disease that the US government was stubbornly refusing to acknowledge largely because of whom it tended to affect. If I had known, I wouldn't have understood why. In the years since, the US government and US-based foundations have poured billions of dollars into the science, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this disease. Not bad for 31 years of work. Not bad at all.
As for science fairs? Sometimes they foreshadow things. If history repeats itself, my son will be a professor writing a paleontology blog (or whatever the modern equivalent is) at 11:30 PM someday. Sometimes science fairs give the intellectual kid a chance to be rewarded as such. Or at the very least, they create yet another reason for my boy to talk about dinosaurs.