Hook-Line-Sinker: Getting Students Interested in the Phenomenon From the Beginning.

Through the 5 E’s learning cycle, students are leading their own learning through inquiry-based discovery. The first step of the 5 Es Learning Cycle is ENGAGE. In this step you are grabbing the attention of the students to dive into the phenomenon you’ll be discussing. We will be discussing 5 budget-friendly ways to grab the attention of the class in this Engage phase.

1. Demonstrations

Demonstrations can be a cheap and easy way to spark the attention of your audience. They can be adapted to any content standard as well as any grade level. Demonstrations allow for the topics to come to life for the students

One example of a demonstration:

For Acid-Base Reactions, create a CO2 balloon experiment. This allows students to watch the reaction of Baking Soda (base) and Vinegar (acid) to create carbon dioxide which fills the balloon.

2. Visit a Nature Webcam or Virtual Field Trip

A webcam or virtual field trip allows students to get experiences that they may never get to have in their day-to-day life.

An example of a Webcam

The NASA ISS live streaming Earth from space. This would be great for standards around Weather, Planets, Space, Gravity, Plate Tectonics, Geography, and more. There are many more examples such as African safari webcams or aquarium webcams if those better fit your phenomenon.


An example of a virtual Field Trip:

This Virtual Field Trip would be perfect for a Genetics unit. It walks the students through the basic genetics concepts as well as goes into detail about genetic testing.

Decoded by Discovery Education

3. Playing a Phenomenon-Based Playlist

Music is a great way to grab the attention of your students while allowing them to connect their lives to the content/phenomenon.

An Example of a Phenomenon-Based Playlist

This playlist is from a parody group called A Capella Science. They take newer songs and make the science parady of those. For example, The Molecular Shape of You” is a parody of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”. This could lead to the students creating their own paradise during the Elaborate phase of the learning cycle.

4. Read a Short Story

Reading a short story can incorporate literacy into any lesson while also engaging students in the phenomenon they are about to uncover. This can be adapted to have any short text such as a picture book, a podcast, or a poem.

An Example of A Short Story

Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights By Debbie S. Miller is a story about the Arctic Lights or the Aurora Borealis. This Story could be paired with this video of the Aurora Borealis to further engage the students. This story can also be found in a Read-along video form as well.

Arctic Lights Arctic Nights by Debbie S. Miller

5. Cooperative Games

Everyone loves games! We learn so much through playing games and we don’t even realize it. We can capitalize on this by having the students work in groups to play games that touch on the Phenomenon.

An Example of a Cooperative Game

Earthquake-Proof High Rises! For this, you will need some materials for each group;

Raw Spaghetti (5-6 whole pieces), Marshmallows (1-2 whole), Masking tape (1 foot), Scissors(1 pair), and Rulers (1 Ruler).

You can adapt the material as needed as well as the amounts per group. This can be adapted for any phenomenon and is a good way to break the ice especially at the beginning of the year or after a seat change.

Have each group build the tallest building they can out of the material given and measure them with the rulers. The buildings must be freestanding without any assistance. Then shake the table with the building on it vigorously for 30 seconds to simulate an Earthquake. The tallest building to survive WINS!!


Engage is the Phase in the 5 Es learning cycle where we HOOK the attention of the students. This can be Budget-friendly and very effective. Here are 5 ways every educator can get their students excited about their Class

  1. Demonstrations
    • Bring the Phenomenon to life
  2. Visit a Nature Webcam or Virtual Field Trip
    • Allow students to gain new perspectives and experiences
  3. Play a Phenomenon-Based Playlist
    • A great way to connect the lives of our students with the content as well as lead into future activities with music analysis or parody writing
  4. Read a Short Story
    • Can bring the class to a common Mindset and create an opportunity for class discussions about the texts can be short stories, podcasts, or even poems
  5. Cooperative Games
    • Allow students to work in groups to get introduced to the phenomenon through hands-on activities

Thank you for making it to the end. I hope these strategies help you get your students engaged and excited about your phenomenon!

Trinity Smith

For more cool classroom content ideas follow me on Twitter and Pinterest


  1. Hi Trinity! I really loved the examples you used for both the demonstrations and cooperative games sections in this post, the videos were very helpful, I can fully visualize myself using these activities in a class. Also I love that you include TLDRs in your posts, they help me get a quick summary of what you will talk about in your post before I read through it. I thought your inclusion of short stories was really interesting, and that these stories can be told in the form of a book, podcast, or poem. What poems would you recommend to teach in a science classroom?

    • Hey Gabricle,
      Thank you so much for reading my post! There are so many amazing examples of poems either about STEM or written by people in STEM careers. I specifically love “Impressions of a Leaf” by Tyler Pederson and “A Really Bad But Kind of Relavent Poem About Chloroplasts” by @No1endosymbiont on Twitter. I love the idea of bringing more opportunities for reading and writing into every classroom and poems are a fun way to do so.

  2. Hi Trinity, this post is really engaging and helpful! I especially like the idea of reading short stories and playing cooperative games! It seems counterintuitive in a STEM class, but reading and play are essential aspects of learning! Out of all the strategies you mentioned, which one are you most excited about implementing in your future classroom?

    • Hey Cahillar,
      Thank you so much for reading my post! I am most excited about bringing in the demos and collaborative games. I learn best by hands-on experiences so being able to bring that into my classroom is very important to me.

  3. Hi Trinity, using short stories are such a great idea and the example you included is so interesting. What student isn’t fascinated by the Arctic Lights! I think the video would work perfect in the engagement stage of the 5E Learning cycle because it promotes student curiosity and wondering.

    • Hey Henryhs,
      Thank you so much for reading my post! I hope it gives you great ideas and strategies you can implement into your future classroom.

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