Balling on a Budget: Engaging your Students without Breaking the Bank

Getting students engaged and interested in what you’re teaching can be tough, especially when you’re working with a teacher’s budget, so here are some cost-efficient and fun ways to get your class started!

1) Brain Busters

Brain busters come in all shapes and sizes and are a fantastic way to start your class by getting your students’ minds working. They don’t even have to directly relate to your content area, they just need to stimulate the minds of your students and cause them to try to think “outside the box”

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For example, you can try and have your students decipher these to figure out what they mean

2) _____ of the day

Something of the day can get your students interested and is a good way to start every day. This can be an element of the day, an organism of the day, or even make it longer term, like scientist of the month. You can really make this your own and even ask the students to come up with ideas or present their own!

3) Demos

Demos are a great way to show a phenomenon that you’re going to be talking about and get your students excited to figure out what’s going on fundamentally. You can find tons of demos all over the internet, many of which are cheap and easy. One of my favorites is fire soap bubbles because it’s quite the show and great for leading into combustion! More information can be found at

5) Readings

Many students see what they’re learning in school as strictly meant for school and it doesn’t affect their lives outside of it when, in reality, students are surrounded by science everywhere they go. A great way to show them this is by showing them articles that integrate what they’re learning and the world around them. Tons of these articles can be found at

4) Simulations and Animations

Simulations and animations can really help your students get more hands-on experience with some of the concepts that they may not be able to in person. Good animations can be great for showing molecular level interactions and one has plenty of these. has tons of simulations available for free for all sorts of topics.

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This is an example of a PhET simulation about solubility


  1. Hi Evan! I really like all of your ideas, but particularly #2, the “_____ of the day.” I think that’s an awesome idea and something that I would like to incorporate in my future classroom! Good post!

    • Josie,
      Thank you! Yeah, I feel that the ___ of the day can help give you the opportunity to share fun facts about something you may not be able to normally in class!

  2. Hi Evan! Your blog post was great! I have to agree with Emilia…it was the title that really drew me in. You shared some awesome links that I am bookmarking for future reference. I especially like the demo you tweeted! I had never seen that one before and think it would be awesome to use in my future science class.

    • Thank you, Brooklyn! Yeah, the fire bubbles demo is one of my favorites and it’s great for a flashy demo to really engage students!

  3. Hi Evan!
    Thanks so much for sharing some of your ideas to help teachers get students “balling on a budget” (your title sucked me in)! One of your suggestions that really resonated with me was the “______ of the day ” wherein each day the students can look forward to learning about something entirely new that may or may not pertain to the curriculum or even subject of study, but is fascinating and creates wonder in the classroom! To expand this a little bit, you could even choose a new theme each week for this such as “The Ocean Deep” and explore fascinating deep sea creatures at the beginning of class all week. Overall, great job and I am excited to see how you will use some of these ideas!

    • Emilia,
      Thank you! The phrase “balling on a budget” popped in my head and I knew I had to make it work in my title. I like your idea for a theme because it can give students the opportunity to suggest things they’re interested in and learn more about the topic.

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