ENGAGE Students Using the Science All Around You!


This post explores several strategies to engage students in a science classroom.

It takes a lot these days to get kids interested in science class! In this post, you will find five foolproof methods of attention-getting to inspire your students to get excited about science!

Virtual Field Trips!!

The comfort of home meets the excitement of a field trip. No permission slips, no travel, no fuss!

  1. Virtual egg farm field trip, perfect to get kids talking about cells, reproduction, or farming! https://www.incredibleegg.org/professionals/k-12-schools/eggs-in-the-classroom/virtual-egg-farm-field-trips?site=a
  2. Virtual Grand Canyon tour, perfect to introduce the concept of superposition in geology! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsiI_ulx-t8
  3. Virtual Planetarium tour, perfect for introducing astronomy and exploring the universe! https://stellarium-web.org/
Accurate Science in Disney films!

Looking at scientific concepts in cartoons is sure to be a hit! Here are a few examples from Disney films, but of course there are plenty of examples in all kinds of genres! The content can be tailored to match the interests of the students.

  1. Walle scene in space with a fire extinguisher demos Newton’s first law! Walle moves in the opposite direction as the stream from the extinguisher, and keeps moving even after the stream stops! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHXx8AmBwXg 
  2. The fur of the kittens from Aristocats follows genetic patterns of inheritance! The gene for cat fur color is on the X chromosome only, the two boys have black and red fur from the X chromosome from their mother, and the girl has white fur like her mom. The mother had both red and black color fur color genes, and she also had a “masking” gene on one of her X chromosomes. The boys inherited the color genes from one X chromosome and the girl inherited the “masking” gene from the other. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sAg45xZeFo
  3. Rupunzal’s hair could actually support the weight of herself and her mother. Human hair actually is that strong, no magic is required! Just one strand of human hair can hold around 100 grams of weight! Tangled (2010) | “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair” | 4K 2160p TrueHD 7.1
Brain Busters!

Starting off a lesson with a brain buster is a great way to engage the minds of students! Especially if the brain buster is scientific in nature, it will allow the students to put on their “science hats” and practice their scientific reasoning!

  1. How can you throw a ball as hard as you can and have it come back to you even if it doesn’t hit anything there is nothing attached to it and no one else catches or throws it ?
    • Answer: throw it straight up into the air, gravity will stop the ball at it’s apex and then cause it to fall straight back down!
  2. H, Be, F, S, Mn, Kr, In, Gd, Tl, ? What’s the next in the sequence ?
    • Answer: Fm. These are the chemical elements whose atomic numbers are perfect squares. 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100
  3. You awake inside a small transparent capsule sitting on the surface of Venus. From a small speaker you hear a voice that says, “We will leave you here either for a day or a year. Either way, you will have sufficient food and water. We will make sure the temperature is a constant 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We will also supply cable TV.” What is your choice?
    • Answer: choose a year, because a day (243 Earth days) on Venus is actually longer than a year (225 Earth days) on Venus!
Outdoor Exploration!

One of the simplest and most impactful ways to get students excited about the natural world is by exploring it! It’s as simple as going outside and letting their natural curiosity lead them. Ask the students to record any observations they have about the plants, insects, and animals they see outside. This is a great introduction to a unit on ecosystems and is sure to ENGAGE students!

Image shows ten students in gray uniforms wearing ties. They are outside observing trees and bushes. The students are writing on clipboards.
Students observing nature and recording their observations

A great way to introduce a concept is to show students a demonstration! An important aspect of a demonstration is the teacher does not explain the process to the students beforehand. Students should observe and come up with their own explanation!

Image reads "Yeast + Sugar Experiment". Image shows three bottles with tan substances in all three. Three different colored balloons are attached to each bottle, the first on the left is deflated, the middle is inflated, and the far right is more inflated.
A visual of a possible demo!

Here’s an example of a demo. Add warm water, yeast, and sugar to a plastic bottle (don’t tell the students what you are putting in the bottle!!). Securely attach a balloon to the top of the bottle. Ask students to observe what is happening and make predictions as to what is causing the balloon to inflate. This is a great demo to introduce fermentation as a concept!

Thanks for reading!

I hope these five methods of engaging students help you kickstart your class! Remember, as exemplary science teachers, it is our job to get students excited about learning science. There are plenty of other resources that will help engage students, so be sure to keep an eye out!

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  1. Hey Audrey,
    I loved your post! I love the idea of Brain Busters. Its such a great way of introducing a topic while also encouraging critical thinking. The accuracy of the science in Disney movies is also a really interesting activity. I had never thought about whether they were accurate. Do you have any activities in mind where these strategies can be collaborative?

  2. I really like your examples of brain busters Audrey, and that you made a point to include the answers! I also really loved that you included taking students outside as part of your engaging activities list. Do you have any suggestions of what kind of activities to do outside with students?

  3. I liked the way you set up your post to be easily accessible to readers. The Demos section was an awesome idea that can save educators money within the supplies portion. The Accurate scientific films from Disney were also very interesting and often accessible to everyone through subscription services. Awesome Job!

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