Making Student Engagement Accessible

With limited funding and small budgets it can be a challenge for teachers to find meaningful ways to engage their students within their lesson plans. Starting lesson plans off in a creative way to grab students interests and get class started in an upbeat, inspirational manner is no easy feat. Luckily, there are some solutions!

Below you will find 5 inventive and frugal ideas and resources to help with student engagement!


1. Youtube or Netflix

Video Clips are an excellent way to engage students. Youtube boasts free usage and a catalog of millions of videos to choose from, you will be able to show students demos that may be out of your price point or peak student interest with a fun science story.

Allow Bill Nye to remind students of previous information.
Show demos that may be outside of the classroom budget!

Netflix, on the other hand, is a membership-based platform. With a monthly fee, you can have access to hundreds of different videos and documentaries that would engage your students with real-world applications and fact-checked stories.

Bring the “real-world” into your classroom, giving students a connection and engaging students through real-life science application.

2. Demonstrations

Although demos can be expensive – requiring the purchase of different chemicals, appropriate personal protective equipment, and chemical handling tools – demonstrations do not have to break the bank! There are a variety of sites that give cost effective options for demonstrations that can use everyday items that you can be found within your home.


Some site you may want to consider:

3. Songs and Singing

Music can be a powerful tool to capture students’ attention, all the while still introducing them to a new topic or reiterating past information. Playing the music as the students enter the class, printing out lyrics, and singing along can be an interactive and effective way to engage with your students beyond the traditional worksheet!


Listen to Elton John’s Rocket Man! Or…


Listen to David Bowie’s Space Oddity!

Popular music streaming services, such as Pandora and Spotify, both have free and annual memberships that you can take advantage of at any price point.

4. PhET Simulations

PhET is a free online science and mathematics service from the University of Colorado Boulder. This site provides 158 simulations in a wide variety of science and math concepts that can be utilized by students both virtually or within a classroom setting. This would be an excellent option for teachers to engage their students in a virtual setting, which is especially beneficial in these unpredictable times.


You can find the PhET simulations at:

5. Phone-A-Friend

If you are able, connect with scientists and other members in the scientific community within your area. A fun way to engage students would be to virtually meet or have the scientist come into your classroom (Collins, 2020). The scientist could talk about the kind of research or activities they perform, or they could lead the class through a demonstration. This would be a unique way to engage your students with the outside world along with providing role models for your students to later look back on!

Collins, M. (2020, October 22). How to Make Virtual STEM Lessons More Engaging for Young Learners. Edtopia.


Using These Resources to ENGAGE in Your Classroom…

Activity 1: The Big Bang Theory

An Ohio standard for Physical Science is student understanding of the history of the universe, PS.U.1: History of the universe. A fun way to introduce this topic could be listening to the full version of the theme song to the popular show, Big Bang Theory. 

  • You could have the song, Big Bang Theory Theme, written by the Barenaked Ladies, playing as the students walked into the classroom. 
  • Once seated you could hand out the song lyrics to the students. 
  • This could be followed by the students watching a video of the song, or having the students sing along.

Activity 2: Remembering Newton’s Laws

An Ohio standard for Physics is for a student to be able to apply Newton’s laws to complex problems, P.F.1: Newton’s laws applied to complex problems. A fun way to introduce the topic for your students, and to aid them in the recall of what they have previously learned about Newton’s laws would be to watch a video about them, by none other than, Bill Nye. Most students love Bill Nye and will be thrilled to recall the previously learned information when their old friend, Bill, is there to help them remember!

  • You could play snippets of the Bill Nye episodes, or you could stream the entire episode for your students. 
  • Students could take notes of the episode and share when they have completed the videos.

Sometimes we will not be able to get around spending money, fortunately, below are some sites that offer discounted or affordable supplies.

Grants and funding are also available to teachers! All you have to do is apply! Below you will find the web address of the Department of Education site that is in regards to education funding.

Some Other Blogs about Student Engagement…


Check these blogs out and see what you think! They provide valuable information in regards to student engagement ideas!


  1. Hi Colleen,
    Your post has so many great resources for teachers to engage students in learning – and on a budget! I found your songs/signing resource to be a great idea and applicable to not only science but to other subject areas as well. My history teacher in high school used Billy Joel’s “We didn’t start the fire” to get us thinking about the role the US has played in various historic events. Taking this idea a step further, do you think the song/singing engagement can be turned into an activity where students can create their own science related lyrics based on a popular song/tune? What topics in chemistry might lend themselves well to songs?

    • Hi Lauren! Thank you so much for taking time to read and react to my post! I have not thought about having a song lyric activity for students. That is such a fun idea that I think could tap into students creativity, all the while creating and reinforcing the concepts they have learned. I think Chemistry topics that would lend themselves well to songs are acids/bases, the periodic table trends, and chemical bonding.

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