The Unremarkable Honorable Mention
Storyteller: Jefferson (he/him/his), 27, California
“The story that stands out to me in my experience in STEM was the time when I was given an honorable mention for a science fair project that I felt that I had no right receiving an honorable mention for.
The place and time was the spring quarter of my 6th grade year. It was the usual time of year for our school's science fair and I had no clue as to what I wanted to do for my science fair project. I tried thinking of many different possible projects to pursue but I couldn't conclude on a particular one. I came to my 6th grade science teacher, Mr. Frankiewich, quite distressed about the situation. Mr. Frankiewich shared with me a book of science fair projects and said for me to choose one that appealed to me. I was a child always fascinated by aerodynamics, flight and things that could propel themselves. So from this book, I decided upon a project in which I had to create various self propelled objects that could travel through the air and then compared their distance of flight on average to one another. The project was honestly a lot of fun! The one issue I had was that we were doing it as partners but my partner was hesitant to do any work. I created the experimental objects, recorded results, formed hypotheses, and drew conclusions. In the end, the only thing I asked of my partner was to type it all out to put on our poster board, since I did not have access to a computer that would allow me to do so. In end, he failed to do even that.
When the science fair project day came, the only thing we were left to do was photo copy my hand written notes and observations and paste them onto my science fair project board. I thought it was a pointless task at that point. I didn't think our project looked nearly presentable enough and it seemed foolish. Nonetheless I put the project out. The following day I went to look at how my project got graded and saw that it got an honorable mention! I thought this was undeserved, but then I realized that one of the judges was Mr. Frankiewich. Mr. Frankiewich supported my project with a honorable mention because, despite its aesthetic flaws, he knew how much work I put into it. I came to him after school to ask for his thoughts on objects I could create to be a part of the project, I discussed with him my hypotheses and conclusions, and he knew too about my struggle of getting my partner to contribute to the project for a portion of it that I didn't have the resources to be able to contribute for.
That day I realized that effort within itself is worth it. Even when you feel like you're a failure because you don't have things exactly right, others will recognize your effort and your persistence and they will honor you for that. Even when you feel like you don't deserve to be honored.”