Increasing Engagement While Minimizing Cost in a Science Classroom

If you are a teacher that is concerned with providing the best possible lessons for your students but do not have the government funding nor the paycheck to spend on, that sentiment is completely understandable and valid. The cost of education has always been a factor of concern in minds of many, whether you are a teacher or a student. But I would like to promise you this: you can still be a transformative teacher that provides engaging content without spending a lot of money.

If we take Glasser’s profound words to heart, we will see that we can still provide high-quality education to our students without the need for expensive lab equipment or costly materials.

Here are 5 engaging resources that could be an effective start to your learning cycles:

1. ) Demos Obtained From the Internet

With recent technological advancements, we have the ability to obtain and share informational content in a quick and effective manner. A quick Google search can lead to a plethora of interactive and cost-efficient science experiments. Here is an example of a fun and educational physics experiment that you can do with materials already present in a traditional classroom:

Source: http://www.scifun.org/homeexpts/homeexperiments.pdf

2. ) Simulations

Resources like PhET are a great way to get students to interact with math and science concepts without needing to pay for any extra materials. Students are also given the freedom to manipulate variables and better learn concepts through simulations that would otherwise be very costly to replicate in real life (I’m sure many students cannot afford a cannon or a trebuchet, let alone justify the purchase).

Link: https://phet.colorado.edu/

3. ) Brain Busters

Activities like brain busters would be a great way to get your students to be engaged with concepts of science before the lesson even starts. These types of activities promote asking questions, collaborating with your classmates, critical-reasoning, and deduction skills.

Image result for brain buster questions
Answer: 1995 and 1953 are room numbers at a hospital!

4. ) Movies

Movies are a dynamic form of media that may choose to retain the natural laws of physics, biology, etc. or make up its own. Teachers can prompt student thinking and discussion by introducing popular pop culture references and ask them to discuss the realism of science that is at play here. Here’s an example of a good scene to talk about with your students:

This movie alone could spark many interesting discussions on the plausibility of the movie’s events

5. ) Video Games

Interest in video games by both children and adults like have significantly increased over the years. They are an important part of our pop culture and integrating lessons with clips from your students’ favorite video games would be a great way to show them that you can integrate their interests with school. Similar to movies, you can create discussions regarding the realism of science that is shown in video games.

This game in particular does a very good job promoting creativity of play around its physics engine.
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3 Responses to Increasing Engagement While Minimizing Cost in a Science Classroom

  1. Evan says:

    Jay,
    I really like your idea about incorporating video games and movies into the classroom because, as you mentioned, you can involve student interests in the topic you’re teaching which can make it much more meaningful. You can also ask students to talk about their favorite mechanics in video games and how it’s different in the game versus real life. Nice post!

  2. chenj18 says:

    Hi Riley,

    Thank you so much for your comments! Yeah I agree movies like Up, Star Wars, and even Wall-E would be great movies that come to mind that have scenes that seem to defy science principles. I also agree heavily with your comment about jigsaw learning where the “experts” become teachers. Collaboration between students is definitely a priceless moment that makes education way more effective and engaging.

  3. curtisrc says:

    Jay,
    Amazing post! The William Glasser graphic really resonated with me because we really should be focussing on delivering some of those bottom components for our students to experience regularly because we want things to stick for them, right? The last component: we remember 95% of what we teach other makes me instantly think about cooperative learning, specifically jigsaw where the “experts” become teachers. I also think it is awesome you brought up movies to engage students with. A good idea you sparked for me might be to find a movie where they defy certain science principles, and try to have students locate them in the movie and then describe how the phenomenon would actually take place in real life.

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