Teaching Science with a budget

When we look back on how instruction was given to us as students, some of us may remember the specific teacher that gave the instruction, or some may remember the specific mode they used to deliver the instruction. The biggest thing that grabbed our interest as students during a lesson was most likely something that engaged us with a very flashy demonstration or a really interesting fact about a topic. These methods are called engages, it can be related to a “hook” in a book that really pulls the reader into the story, but in our case it is pulling the student into the topic. The stage called the Engage is just one of the 5 stages that makes up the 5E’s Learning cycle, and it is a critical one to gain students interest. Engaging students usually comes from things such as demonstrations, or other observatory things, and all of these things usually cost money. Depending on the school district funds may not be allocated to teachers for things like this, so they may have to pay out of their own pocket, which can build up for a teacher, so here are some ways to Engage your students with a budget.

Strategy #1 – Using Materials readily in your classroom

There are numerous ways to engage our students that are right in front of us that we are sometimes unaware of. The strategy of using materials that are readily in your classroom comes from an activity that we did during the beginning of a lesson, which was used to engage all of the students in the class. The material readily in our classroom are things like using post-it notes, or whiteboards, you can use these materials to engage your students in thought provoking discussions and gauge their prior knowledge before diving into the topic.

Strategy #2 – Demonstrations

Demonstrations are one of the best techniques to engage your students in the classroom, it is something that is visual, that can get the students minds wondering about what is to come later in the class. Demonstrations are a great way to get students interested in a topic, it is easy for us learn a topic, but for us to be seriously interested in it, and have a WANT to learn more starting with a demonstration is a wonderful way to do this.

Strategy #3 – Field Trip

A field trip is a great way to engage your students in the material you are getting ready to cover. It has the power to apply a real world application to your topic which can grab a students interest immediately. One way to budget on a field trip, is using the resources and world around you. Nature and plants are around us everywhere, so when you are getting ready to start a topic, such as the parts of a plant, you can take your classroom out into nature on a field trip and catch their minds this way to start your unit.

Strategy #4 – Technology

Technology has become more apparent in todays classrooms, and is usually a big part of students lives, outside of the classroom. There are many modes to engage students with the use of technology, it can be things like a YouTube video showing a demonstration, with you stopping the video and asking what they think is going to happen next, or something such as a PHET simulation. Technology has produced numerous of ways to interact with students, in a way that is usually already in the classroom.

Strategy #5 – Bringing in a Classroom Pet

Students are usually very curious when it comes to animals, and there is a lot that encompasses them which can be covered in many topics discussed in a science classroom. If you are about to enter a topic about biomes, this can be a great opportunity to bring in a classroom pet, something cheap such as a frog, here you can show the classroom the pet, inviting them to wonder about questions you ask. Such as where do we think this frog lives, or what time of climate might this frog live in. This is a great strategy to engage your students in a relatively cheap manner.

How do I plan on implementing these in my classroom?

The biggest resources I want to implement into my classroom is Field trips and classroom pets, these two are things that I know students want to do, and it will motivate them to want to come to class. I plan on taking field trips to explore nature with my students as a means to introduce a topic, Having thought-provoking questions can really open up their eyes to the outdoors and engage them in a topic they may overlook when talking through nature. The next one is a classroom pet, although classroom pets can cost money, they are relatively cheap, and some are low maintenance, Students can be extremely engaged with having a pet in the classroom, it can be a great way to explain the biome of where the pet came from, or for something more advanced the anatomy of it. You can also assign students to take care of the pet, which can motivate them to be more interested in the topic, and to want to come to class and learn each day!


  1. Hey Quinten, I loved reading your post. I also think that field trips are a great way to get students out of the classroom and into nature to supplement their learning in the classroom. However, do you have any ideas that might help teachers in an urban setting create field trips to explore nature on a budget?

    • Hi Duncan, thank you for your response, and that is a great question! I would say in an urban area, I would like to hope that most have at least a small park with a pond, where ecosystem relationships can be reserved, although you may need to expand your radius around your school. If this is not an option I suggest a community garden, or a wild animal rescue area, I hope this helps!

  2. Great post!! I agree that the more engaging the topic is, the more we remember it and learn from it. I also liked how you mentioned gauging the student’s prior knowledge through discussions before diving into the lesson. This is a great idea! I would agree technology is readily available in most classrooms. This is a great resource to use as an engaging tool. I think a classroom pet would be great! Can you think of any other ideas that would be engaging that you have not already mentioned?

    • Hi Allie, Thank you for your response! I would say, things that actively guage the students mind at the beginning on class like a brain buster, or maybe something where you doing an observatory thing outside to spark curiosity!

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