The Wow Factor

What are some activities that I can plan for the next school-year of science with that will excite my students for the lessons to come?
— C., Arkansas


There are a host of demonstrations and hands-on activities that can impress a class and start off the year with a real rush! Try conducting quick science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) challenges using drinking straws and tape that get students moving the first day and teach teamwork. Break the class into small teams to build something. For instance, each team can be responsible for one part of a tower that will be built in half an hour. In 30 minutes stop and assemble all the pieces into a monstrous structure!

Discrepant events are also exciting and thought-provoking. Find ones that match your curriculum but be sure to test them out before demonstrating them. Alternatively, provide groups of students with simple discrepant activities and have them try to explain them to the class. The Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning with Discrepant Events series by Thomas O’Brien (published by NSTA Press) features a multitude of discrepant events.

Give teams several science brain-teasers and demonstrations and tell them that if they can adequately explain them all you will give their team an A for the entire course on the first day! Obviously make these too hard, but the students will be excited and they will argue with you about what the correct explanation is!

Hope this helps!

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