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Why Don't They Care?..

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Fully Engaged Students

With SO many exciting, fast-paced, high-tech options for students, how do you get them to care about your curriculum?

This seems to be getting harder and harder to do but it is still possible.

The picture on the right is of my students

giving a lesson to other students on the chemistry of bath bombs. They were highly motivated to to teach this lesson and to learn about the chemistry involved.

Why were they engaged?

1) They had choice in their topic. This is highly motivating to students.

2) Their project required a hands-on portion where they were to teach other students how to make a bath-bomb.

3) Their topic was relevant to their lives because they were familiar with bath bombs.

4) Their topic involved enough chemistry (my requirement) to challenge them without discouraging them.

So, the recipe for motivating students to care?

-some choice within the confines of the assignment



-the right amount of challenge

BUT, how does a teacher keep this up on a DAILY basis?

That is NOT easy to do. Here is what I found worked for me.

-EVERY day I had some challenging, relevant, real-life question, short reading, or video to start class (even if this took only 5 minutes). This opened their minds to want to learn.

-EVERY day we closed class by referring back to the starter question.

If students see a reason to learn what we are teaching AND their curiosity is stimulated they are way more likely to care.

Here are some of my more challenging topic examples.

Topic Relevance

-Dimensional Analysis I searched for real-life examples where mistakes in conversions made or potentially made fatal mistakes.

Examples: Medical Mistakes, Air Disasters (Gimli


Isotopes King Richard III-I found a real-life example of where

the chemistry knowledge of isotope ratios were

used to determine interesting facts about King

Richard III's life from the isotopes found in his

bones. Students found this fascinating and relevant.

Ions Scam debunking: the "ionic foot bath" scam. LOTS

of chemistry is this topic. I did not let my students

know that this was a total scam. They learned this

as they worked through the chemistry involved and

I hooked them with videos advertising the ionic

foot baths as a way to detoxify their bodies.

Final Thought: It was well worth the time I spent looking for relevant examples in real-life because then my students were open to learning about the topic, were curious and on task. This was interesting to me too!

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