Posted by: Brad Nixon | November 16, 2009

Procrastinator Rex

It was the Science Fair that sealed my fate and made me the procrastinator I am today.

First, understand that I was that kid in class who was obsessed by dinosaurs. If it was art period, I drew dinosaurs. Of course, if it was math or social studies I drew dinosaurs: dinosaurs fighting other dinosaurs; dinosaurs fighting cavemen! (I knew this was wrong, but it was so cool to draw a Tyrannosaurus crunching a caveman.) My conversation consisted of conjecture about who would win a fight: Allosaurus or Tyrannosaurus? My fifth-grade teacher eventually suggested that I might complete some assignment, in some subject, whether Reading, Writing, Math, Science or Social Studies that did not revolve around dinosaurs. I was shocked.

Naturally, my science fair project in 4th grade was dinosaurs. My dad helped me make a box out of 1x4s divided into three equal sections (you can see this coming a mile away, but bear with me). I filled each section with sand and arranged my plastic palm trees and molded plastic dinosaurs in those sections, the species corresponding to the appropriate period of the Mesozoic Era. I was kind of thin on species for the Triassic: lots of Dimetrodons.

There was also a posterboard backdrop divided into the same three periods with facts and figures about each one. I did this poster the night before the contest, despite my mother reminding me for weeks ahead of time that the science fair was coming. I hope no pictures of that dire display still exist. I also waited, I’m sure, for that same night before I put the notes for my “talk” onto file cards. Yes, it was the classic Kid Talking About Model Dinosaurs Exhibit, the archetypal joke of the science fair circuit.

But I pulled it off. Not only did I get first place at the Pleasant Street School Science Fair, but when my dad took me to the district competition over in Wilmington, I landed the blue ribbon there, too. There I was with a box full of sand and toy monsters — surrounded by exhibits with Van de Graaff generators shooting bolts of electricity, braniacs explaining the new hybrid plants and animals they’d originated, and whizzes in organic chemistry explaining the analyses of their compounds — toting off the top 4th-grade district prize.

This may simply prove your suspicions that the world of the 1960s was a much more naive and jejeune one than ours, or else you have to credit me with generating a spiel that actually made the judges believe that I was in line to be the next Roy Chapman Andrews.

Well, it stuck. If I could stand there pointing to cereal box toys and a papier-mache volcano (very nifty) and cart off Top Prize, why study? Why prepare? Why write this blog entry on Saturday afternoon when I had three uninterrupted hours? No, I waited ’til now, late Sunday night to write about … uh, I know! I’ll write about dinosaurs!

And, really, who DO you think would win: Allosaurus or Tyrannosaurus?


  1. Alley Oop’s “green sheet”

    Favorite Line (o/u) Underdog

    Allo 6 at Tyranno


Leave a Comment. I enjoy hearing from readers.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: