“Why does this matter?” “How does [insert any subject here] even relate to my life?” “Chemistry has zero relevance in the real world.” Do these sound familiar? That last one is a real quote from a parent email to me during my first year of teaching; ah! It’s so easy to think of these questions as “dumb” questions; I mean really, did you really just ask me how science even relates to your life?! Did you brush your teeth? Wash your hair/body? Eat food? How’d you get to school? Are you breathing? Are you tired? Mad? Happy? Sad? ALL OF THIS INVOLVES SCIENCE!
Now to make it clear responding with “That’s a dumb question!” and then following up with the above remarks is probably not the best way to approach students asking the question “why does this matter?” Students do not ask this question to be spiteful….okay maybe some are but most of them are genuinely curious as to how [insert any subject here] is relevant to them. They just don’t see the connection between cells and life, history and citizenship, the Periodic Table and explosions, etc… It is our job as teachers to help students make this connection; to show them why understanding the basics of English, History, Art, Foreign Language, and Science are so important. This conundrum I was confronted with during my first year of teaching was the starting place for Molecule Monday’s but I wasn’t aware of it just yet.
Fast forward to the end of my 4th year of teaching. During Tiger Talks (my school’s version of Ted Talks; implemented during some of our professional days; yes it’s awesome), one of my amazing teaching peers presented and let me just say, this teacher is brilliant. Students love him, his classroom is always full (before/during lunch/after school) and he teaches Physics! During his presentation he talked about dark matter, with his ideas starting from watching water on a trampoline! I remember one of his points was about engaging students, and in his classroom he used Flashback Friday. He would play songs from all decades and the students would try to guess the song. Implementing something fun in my room to engage students sounded like an awesome idea. I went into the summer determined to come up with something.
A month later, on a plane ride home from a conference, I was talking with another amazing peer about my thoughts of implementing something fun in my room that connected science to the world around my students. I wanted to have an answer for how science was relevant. I wanted a catchy name so that student’s looked forward to it. She replied with, “What about Molecule Monday’s?” She said the title came from a scene in the movie 21 Jump Street…which I still have yet to see lol And that was it. Molecule Monday’s was the answer I had been searching for and is something I have been working on for the last year. So I present:
Every Monday I introduce students to a new molecule. Student’s enter class while science-y themed music is playing (Weird Science and She Blinded Me with Science) and on the board is the molecule (to show how substances have different shapes) with products the molecule is a part of. When class starts, I give a little background information then play a 3-5 minute video. There is no quiz later. Student’s don’t have to remember any of the information I present. Molecule Monday’s is simply a way for me to show my students how science is relevant to their lives. My student’s LOVED it last year! They’d even ask questions after the videos. If I missed a Monday, I would get asked all week if we were going to make it up. It made me so very happy to see that the student’s loved this new creation of mine.
My goal this year is to not miss a single Monday. I have already collected all the information I need for the Fall semester and I’m half-way done with the Spring! I idea for something else as well 🙂 I teach both Chem 1 and Chem 2 so I’m going to eventually need something different for my Chem 2 kiddos.
Have you implemented something fun in your classroom that connects your classroom topics to the world around your students? I’d be interested to hear what you’ve done!