Loosen Up

We see more clearly in retrospect...sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not so good.

Thinking back on this year, I realized that I've gotten lazy with some of my favorite chemical demonstrations.  They're small things, but in a flipped class, it is so easy to come to school, remind kids of the benchmarks they have to meet, and then move away.  Mark Siegel wrote about this and how he also missed this aspect of chemistry.  He implemented Demo Wednesday to make sure he still included all of the fun stuff for chemistry that is too dangerous for labs, but still great illustrations of chemical principles.  I loved this idea, but never really implemented it.

A good friend of mine is an English teacher at our school and he has had a hard time with one particular class.  This morning, I decided it would be fun to go in, interrupt class, and have a brief chemistry teachable moment. I did a demo with potassium permanganate and glycerin.  It produces a lot of smoke and bright purple flames.  I had fun, he had fun, and his class seemed to wake up a little bit when it was over.

I say loosen up because we get so caught up in the content that we forget that school is supposed to be fun.  Should we wait until the end of the school year to do this?  I don't think so.  I wish I had done more like this during the year, just to build relationship with other teachers and help spread the fun in school.

It is so easy to go day by day and think about content...getting it in for the sake of doing it.  Be sure to connect with your colleagues.  Take 5 minutes to do something fun with the kids on a random day.  It is all part of having an open mentality about education.

Don't limit yourself to your classroom.

3 thoughts on “Loosen Up

  1. Hi Brian!

    Glad to hear you’re still thinking about including a little pizzazz in your lessons – I really think it’s a great thing to do from time to time.

    Just curious – when you did your potassium permanganate/glycerin demo, did you actually physically do the demo in the room, or did you should the video you linked to? I can imagine the English class must’ve been thrilled!

    • Brian Bennett says:

      Yeah, I took it to the room in my lab coat and goggles. I really hammed it up and made them all (including the teacher) think that I didn’t know what would happen. They were pretty excited about the purple smoke/flames.

  2. Marc Seigel says:

    thanks for the mention, Brian. My kids really look forward to Demo Wednesday and get upset when I forget. I do some simple demos like putting styrofoam in acetone or ammonia with goldendrod paper, but do something with fire every couple of weeks. This week I am doing methane bubbles.

    I never thought of doing demos in other classrooms. That’s a really great way to build interest in your program.

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