Something Fishy at the Science Fair

Something Fishy at the Science Fair
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grade 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.05

     challenging words:    apprise, gem-studded, indecipherable, lackadaisical, potato-skin, ubiquitous, gangly, embody, wayward, coincidental, explicit, flab, broach, frenzy, conspicuous, replica
     content words:    Billings Deaconess Clinic Science Fair, Suddenly Michael, Michael Smith, Most Artistic, Dynamic Exhibit

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Something Fishy at the Science Fair
By Colleen Messina

1     "Michael, are you ready with the stopwatch?" his mom asked eagerly. Her brown eyes sparkled with glee and rolls of flab around her waist pressed over the edge of the fish tank as she prepared to give the fish a sumptuous feast. She loved feedings of all kinds, and Michael saw her mouth practically water in anticipation!
2     "Yes, Mom," Michael answered, as he suppressed a groan. Even though he was in high school, he still let his mom help him because it seemed to mean so much to her. He would much rather work on his project alone!
3     They were doing an experiment for the annual Billings Deaconess Clinic Science Fair. Michael's dark eyes, though a replica of his mom's, held an indecipherable emotion. He twirled his sandy hair rhythmically. He felt unbearably bored.
4     The purpose of the experiment was to assess whether goldfish took longer to eat in the morning or in the evening. Michael tried not to make his boredom conspicuous, but he truly did not care whether goldfish took twenty seconds or an hour to have their breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Let them enjoy their meals! Gastric events were probably the only excitement goldfish experienced in their dull, aquatic life! Michael was skeptical about his chances of winning anything at the fair, especially because of his lackadaisical attitude.
5     "We'll have to be explicit in our description of the fish's feeding habits. It is a good thing we timed their breakfast this morning," said Mrs. Smith.
6     Whoopee, thought Michael.
7     Mrs. Smith seemed to embody the "mad scientist" personality more than anyone Michael had ever seen. She was forever creating explosions, bubbling solutions, or slimy ooze. Ubiquitous evidence of her love of science abounded in their household. Michael liked these experiments when he was little, but now he preferred art and computer graphics to science.
8     "Ready, set, go!" said his mom. She sprinkled the brown and orange fish flakes across the water as carefully as she sprinkled fresh pepper into her savory spaghetti sauce.
9     The surface of the water was suddenly raging with fish, food, and bubbles in a frantic feeding frenzy. Michael dutifully started the watch as he daydreamed about how he might arrange his display. His mom knelt next to the tank and watched the frantic goldfish intently. She was always tossing her slightly frizzy, wayward hair away from her face with quick jerks. Her merry personality was evident in the crinkly laugh lines at the corners of her eyes.

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