End of Term Quickies

Because of the vagaries of the calendar, school goes late in December this year. As a result, everyone is frazzled, and a not insignificant number of students have already left for the holidays*. As a result, I needed to come up with things that would be meaningful, but not indispensable. And fun – partly to keep the kids engaged, but also, maybe just a little, to make the early vacationers a touch jealous. So here are some of the things I did:

1. With my Grade 9’s, since we are working on the Chemistry unit, we did a Great Periodic Table of the Elements Bingo Scavenger Hunt! And yes, the exclamation mark is part of the title. The class is divided into teams of three or four, and each team is given a large periodic table and a bingo marker. The rules are:

  1. Each team will collect items (or photos of items-see #6 below) that contain a particular element. Note that the element must be prominent or significant in the item, not merely “traces of” or contamination.
  2. Each item will be confirmed by the teacher as containing that element, which can then be marked on the periodic table.
  3. After one hour, the team that has collected the most elements wins.
  4. Even if an item contains multiple elements, that item can only be used for one. In other words, one item (or multiple identical items) cannot be used for multiple elements. In addition, items that are physically collected cannot be shared between groups.
  5. When collecting items, you must have permission for each item.
  6. If an item cannot be moved, or you do not have permission to collect it, you may instead take a photograph, but one of the team members must be in the picture.
  7. You must be quiet and respectful in the hallways. If you make noise or are disrupting in any way, you may be removed from the game.
  8. Only those items (or images) returned to the classroom within the allotted time are counted.
  9. Good luck!

It took up a full 80 minute class, the kids had fun, and they even learned a thing or two. During the final class, my colleague and I did a few chemistry demos – stoplight reaction, zinc and sulphur combustion, Marge’s Hair (natural gas bubbled through bubble solution), and an alcohol pulse jet. End with a bang!

2. With my Grade 10’s, they are working on something a bit more involved: stop motion animations of mitosis. Some are doing old-school flip-book style, some are doing a rapid sequence of powerpoint slides, and some are doing flash. One used pasta. Awesome.

3. With my 11 Biology class, we did a timeline of evolution. I came across this tutorial  for creating an interactive timeline using scripts and a Google Docs back end. It takes a little bit of prep work, and you have to be familiar enough with RSS feeds and HTML to get it working, but it is quite effective once the bugs are ironed out. Each student was given a person on whom to produce a brief bio (background people mostly – Buffon, Cuvier, Lamarck, Linneaus, Smith, Malthus etc.), which they submitted using a Google Docs form, and it then automagically showed up on the timeline. Because the timeline page uses third party scripts hosted elsewhere, they can have a copy of the HTML file on their local machine which shows the live data.

Merry Christmas, joyous solstice, happy Hanukkah, or whatever you celebrate have a peaceful holiday, and a happy New Year!


*they justify this by saying “we don’t do anything in the last week”, and of course we can’t do anything in the last week, because half the kids are gone.


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