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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles:
Teach High School Science
Celebrate a “Science Day”
Judy Jones

As teachers, we are always looking for ways to build interest and excitement in our science students. In this era of testing, it becomes even more important for us to remember that the motivation to learn science and to pursue science as a career does not come from choosing among answers A, B, C, or D!

Students love celebrations. So I have compiled a list of special science and health days (or weeks or months) for you to celebrate with your students. These are organized by the month and there are links to websites that give many ideas for involving your students. Some links just tell you more about the special days so you and your students will have to figure out how to celebrate.

Some ideas for celebration that I have used:

Invite a speaker: DNA Day is a perfect example of a day that has many opportunities for inviting speakers. You might focus on genetic counseling or you might choose to focus on agricultural biotechnology and the related DNA research. There are so many opportunities here. The national DNA Day group will help to organize a speaker for your classroom. For National Blood Donor Month, you could invite a nurse or other medical person to explain how different blood donations work. (I always use Valentine’s Day to have the school nurse come speak about blood donations!) For any of the special environmental days, you could find many different speakers – from folks who work in recycling to scientists that are researching various aspects of environmental change to engineers who are trying to develop energy saving technologies. You and your students might even organize a debate on global climate change.

Plan a Service Project: Students love to feel useful and there are many opportunities to make them feel so. In January you could plan a blood drive at your high school; call the Red Cross and they will work with you. You could do a campus clean-up for World Environment Day. You could create health brochures for your school for National Nutrition Month. You could help students volunteer at the Animal Shelter or collect pet food and other supplies for National Pet Week. You could have a fundraiser where you show a “pet” movie such as “Homeward Bound” or something similar. Your students could start a school recycling program or a home recycling program for “America Recycles Day.” For “World No Tobacco Day,” your students could have an awareness campaign where they research tobacco related diseases and create posters to hang around the community. You and your students could build birdfeeders for National Birdfeeding Month. You could sell the feeders and use the money to buy bird food!

Have a Party: All children love a party How about a Birthday Party for Darwin as part of your lessons on the Theory of Evolution. Students could dress up and bring food. There could be a cake in the shape of a finch or an iguana or one of the Galapagos Islands. Students could read part of Origin of Species aloud.

Students could sponsor a party for a scientist that is born on their birthday (see link below). What fun for them to find a scientist born on their own birthday, research that scientist and plan a party!

Participate in Competitions: A few of these science days, weeks, and months have associated competitions. There is the DNA Day essay competition. National Environmental Week has a Photo Blog contest. National Engineers Week has a Build a City Competition. Many students enjoy competing in different ways. You could even organize your own competitions – jeopardy games, trivia contests, etc., for your students and other students in your school.

Incorporate the Day into Your Curriculum: Don’t forget to include these special days in your curriculum. One of our main responsibilities as science teachers is to help our students learn important science concepts. These special “science days” can be used as a vehicle to help students learn the curriculum. When I taught chemistry, I used “National Mole Day” to teach the concept of the mole and its application in Stoichiometry. As a biology teacher, I use DNA day as a wonderful time to have my students learn about the history of the discovery of DNA and the incredible progress in understanding DNA function. The opportunities for learning are abundant if you look over the list of special days.

Another great way to celebrate is to let your students decide how they want to commemorate the day, week, or month. Students love to plan.

Enjoy your celebrations! And please let me know if you have any great ideas to add.

Special Days, Weeks and Months related to Science

January
National Blood Donor Month

February
American Heart Month

National Bird Feeding Month

World Wetlands Day – February 2

Darwin Day – February 12

National Engineer’s Week - February 15-21

March
National Nutrition Month

Sun Earth Day – March 20, 2009

World Water Day – March 22, 2009

Bunsen Burner Day – March 31

April
National Week of the Ocean – April 5-11

National Environmental Education Week - April 15-22

Earth Day – April 22

DNA Day – April 25

May
Space Day – May 1

National Pet Week – May 4-10

World Turtle Day – May 23

World No Tobacco Day – May 31

June
World Environment Day – June 5

World Ocean Day – June 8

Meteor Day – June 30

Fireworks Safety Month

July
UV Safety Month

August
Immunization Awareness Month

September
World Heart Day – September 28

Food Safety Education Month
http://foodsafety.gov/~fsg/september.html

October
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Clean Air Month

Health Literacy Month

National Metric Week – 2nd week of October

World Animal Day – October 4

World Food Day – October 16

National Chemistry Week – October 18-24

National Mole Day – October 23

November
American Diabetes Month

America Recycles Day – November 15

December
AIDS Awareness Month

Scientist Born on Your Birthday

As always, if you have comments or ideas, please share them with me.

 

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