Thursday, December 06, 2012

Science Fair

AveryI found this story on my laptop. My son write it in sixth grade, and since it's about computer security, I thought it qualified as blog content. (Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, should not be too surprising.) Enjoy.

“Back so soon?” the school’s secretary asked rhetorically, “I’ll tell the principal you’re back.”
As John waited for what seemed like a long time, he scored a kind smile from Kelly Barrett, the Vice-Principal. “Hi, John,” she said as she passed by.
Finally, Principal Melon poked his head out the window and commanded in an annoyed tone, “John will you come in here?”  An annoyed John walked in the office of an annoyed Principal.
Once they were seated Mr. Melon told John, “Your teacher says you have been misbehaving again. Instead of reviewing your STAR test answers you were just sitting there reading.”
“I already checked them,” John replied.
“Well you should have checked them again. These scores - I mean the tests, are very important to our school. Now give me the book. You’ll get it back in a week,” said Mr. Melon. He then took the book from John’s outstretched hand. “Rules are there for a reason John.”
After school, John rushed over to his afterschool class in the computer lab and logged on to one of the computers and started to work on his science fair project. To prove or disprove his hypotheses, “most computers are highly vulnerable to attacks”, he tried different ways of hacking the school computers. He thought that it should be fine if he tried school computers because it was a school project. He started with a basic worm. He got onto Mr. Melon’s Computer and saw three files. After putting a little marker on the computers, he walked home.
The next Thursday did not go well.
“I’ll tell Mr. Melon you’re back.”  The school secretary went to Mr. Melon’s door and told him something. Mr. Melon seemed upset.
 “This is not all right. As a consequence for doing your homework during recess instead of at home, I want you to stay 30 minutes after school on Thursdays and clean up the eating area.”
“Is there any other day I could do this?”
“No.”
“I have a Computer Lab class then.”
“I know. That’s why I chose Thursday”
“I need that time for my Science fair project”
“Well then you’re banned from the science fair. Problem solved. And remember, rules are there for a reason.”
“One question”
“What?”
“Can I please have my book back?”
NO!
Vice-Principal Barrett watched John leave, looking as glum as he did.
On Wednesday night John showed up at the Science Fair even though he was banned. Mr. Melon saw him right away.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to prove or disprove my hypotheses.”
“Well go away and take your hypotheses with you.”
“My Hypotheses is ‘School is improving with Mr. Melon’s great principal skills’.”
“Fine, you can present.”
John got up on stage and explained, “ Hello, My hypotheses is ‘The School is improving because Mr. Melon is a great principal’. This is a common belief among the staff.” He pulled out a piece of paper and asked his Science teacher, “Ms. Billiard, have you seen this before?”
“John, what are you doing?”
“Yes,” she answered, “It was the new policy sheet. We all had to sign it”
John pulled out another sheet, “Ms. Billiard, have you seen this before?”
“Don’t listen to him”
“Yes,” she answered again, “It was the STAR Test Monitor sheet.”
John held the papers close to each other and looked at the judges.
“John, come over here!”
“While I was in Mr. Melon’s office, I saw some STAR Test Envelopes open and in the trash bin. I thought they were extras but now I realize not.”
By now Mr. Melon was almost dragging John off the stage.
“I see now that Mr. Melon has been replacing the test envelopes with new ones and using the signatures from the policy sheets on them. He must have been changing the answers to improve he school’s test scores.”
“John, this is an outrage!”
“You’re right, Mr. Melon. My science fair project failed to prove its hypothesis, since I had to throw out all the bad test data.”
The judges were shocked. Mr. Melon slumped. “John, why would you do this?”
John replied simply, “Rules are there for a reason, Mr. Melon.”

One week later, John found himself once again sent to the Principal’s office. The secretory wasn’t there so he knocked on the principal’s door and heard “Come in.”
Sitting at Mr. Melon’s old desk was the new Principal, Kelly Barrett. “Hi John. Tough day?”
“I guess so.”
“Sorry to hear it. You know I never congratulated you.”
“For what?”
“For winning the Science Fair! I think that earns you a free pass today. But try to pay more attention to your teachers, John, okay?”
“Okay.”
“And before you go, I have one question.”
“Um, okay.”
“I found this in my desk. Is it yours?”
John smiled as he reached over and retrieved his book.
“Thanks!”

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