Many adults look back on their days in high school chemistry with an unpleasant sigh. They recall content that was difficult for them to absorb and classes that did not hold their attention. You don’t want your own students to have these experiences. You want to use techniques that make the process of learning chemistry fun and inviting for your students.
Incorporate Hands-on Learning
Some students have taken chemistry classes where they did not actually get to participate in labs. Instead of having those important hands-on experiences, students were forced to watch videos of labs. Watching a video of a lab is nowhere near the same as actually engaging in one. If your school currently discourages hands-on labs, speak with a supervisor about ways you can make changes to that approach. A lab day can excite students, particularly because they know they are going to get a break from the regular routine.
Plan Field Trips
If you recall your own days in school, you probably remember a love for field trips. Many students like the opportunity to get out of the classroom for the day and spend time with their friends learning in another environment. Look into local opportunities that are related to the subject of your class. You might team up with other chemistry classes in the school too. Another possibility is to consider an overnight or weekend venture. Depending upon the age of the students and the rules at the school, you might be able to take your learners to a location known for exhibits, activities and attractions related to chemistry.
Connect to Other Disciplines
You also have the ability to show your students how chemistry connects to other fields. While you may not have many budding chemists if your classroom, you likely have some students who could benefit from seeing the connections between chemistry and their future fields of study and work. For example, you might set up a unit that explains the connections between chemistry and forensic science. One idea is to have students solve a mystery using forensic evidence. Require the students to use skills taught in the chemistry class to solve the crime or puzzle. Perhaps you have a number of students who are interested in literature and writing in your class. You might assign short stories or show films where the creators needed a deep knowledge of chemistry in order to create the content.
Another option is to get your students excited about the possibility of conducting research. You can share stories of other motivational individuals and how those individuals made real changes in the world. Let students know how important research is at the college level, since many of your students will soon be having those educational experiences. You can help students to come up with their own research plans. Also, look into journals that accept this type of work from high school students. Students could be really excited about the ability to get their work published when they are still in high school.
Chemistry does not have to be a dull subject that overwhelms students. Instead of allowing your class to be one that the students can’t wait to leave for the day, use creative and smart teaching strategies to inspire a love for the field of chemistry.