Science Fair was required in elementary school:
Yep. There's nothing like encouraging kids in science like forcing them to do something, and getting their parents involved in something frustrating.
Not to mention arbitrary. I think elementary schools keep a list of winners somewhere, and every family is guaranteed to have a winner at least once. In our family it was the vXgirl who went to regionals with a project about how environment affects fruit ripening. It wasn't bad at all ... but I wonder how much she learned from it.