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Do you try to connect with students using humor? What are your best science jokes or riddles? Here's mine...Question: Have you heard about the restaurant on the Moon? Answer: Great food, but no atmosphere. It has worked with elementary and middle school students!
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Actually, there is another path to using science humor and I just included it in one of the collections that I am putting together on Forces and motion -- having the students illustrate their understanding of physics principles by creating physics comics or designing posters to explain the principles. This strategy has long been employed by many science teachers in classrooms at all levels and I know of two national curriculum texts that have neat science cartoons at the beginnings of chapters and activities to ellicit "what do you think about?" by students -- Active Physics and Active Chemistry. Also, many science teachers use published comics from great illustrators to discuss what is right or what is wrong with something.
I will have to check but Doonesbury and someone else made presentations at NSTA and AAPT meetings and gave teachers blanket permission to use their material in a face-to-face brainstorming discussion with students.
Making correlations between art and science - and right and left brain thinking - is great.
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Here is and NSTA resource book for teaching the periodic table through jokes and riddles to middle school students:
This is a great idea and a fun one I have used before. I asked physics students to create a four frame cartoon about a principle in physics. One created a storyboard about why the sky was blue. To him someone blew up a blue pigment factory and it all got stuck in the sky. We have also analyzed the Road Runner cartoons to check for bad/good physics. There is an article in the NSTA Library called "The Laughing Learning Link" which you can download and look at that not only will give you ideas but will provide a list of other resources you could use at all levels.
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I came across a New York Times physics lesson plan online using comic strips. Based upon the positive comments, I decided to post the link here. The comics illustrate Newton's Laws of Motion.
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I take humor to a whole new level in the classroom. I learned early in my career that my life is much easier if I can manage to 'trick' them in to paying attention. Here are just a few of my favorite 'characters' I've created for the classroom:
Matter Woman - she wears blue pajamas, a blue mask, and a blue cape. She can also change the state of matter in a single bound! (Don't laugh too loud, I get to wear pajamas to class for an entire week and no one says a thing!)
Wanda the Water Drop - she wears a giant clear shower curtain that's been hot glued to look like balloon with arm/leg holes cut out. The 'balloon' is filled with about 100 small white balloons that have H2O written on them (I use balloons because they're so light weight). Her hair and face are pale blue/white. She dubs each student as an honorary water drop for the day and escorts them on a 'tour' of the water cycle.
Sir Farflugneugenheisen vs. Louis Pastuer - Sir Farflugneugenheisen is a dead alchemist that I raise from the grave to teach the class why he's such a firm believer in in spontaneous generation. He even brings in black cauldrons with dry soil so the class can add water and 'see' earthworms (that are carefully placed at the bottom of the cauldrons) are 'created' from only soil and water. Luckily, I've also managed to raise Louis Pasteur from the dead. He arrives just in time to explain his experiments that prove the theory of biogenesis. Both characters are very pale with dark circles, Sir Farflugneugenheisen wears the hood up on his cape but Louis Pasteur wears his down and has a very bad French accent (that sometimes sounds German or Spanish, depending on what movies I've recently watched).
Ancient Star Spirit That Is So Old That No One Can Remember Her Name - this character was inspired by the author Madeline L'Engle (A Wrinkle In Time). She also wears a hood but has has sparkly purple/white hair, her skin is covered in sparkling glitter, and her long (fake) eyelashes also shimmer. She speaks in a whispy-sing-songy voice and informs everyone that, "I am maaaaaaade of staaaarduuuuust annnd sooooo are youuuuuu!" while sprinkling them with her star dust (aka, glitter). Through a pretty standard PowerPoint presentation, she shows everyone that that top 5 elements in stars and the top 5 elements in humans are almost identical (hey, four outta five ain't bad, ya know). She then helps kids 'discover' that stars actually 'make' matter!
These are just a few of my favorites - and these aren't even mentioning my raps, songs, and dances. The kids laugh a lot (and so do my coworkers) but they also learn so very, very much.
Hope you enjoy!
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Try this link for cartoons for the classroom
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Kendra, Where did you get your ideas from for your characters? Do you have a file or resource you can share that lists these or others that you have used? What great ideas!! Sue
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Here is a site for plant science humor
Science: Plant Science: Teaching with Comedy
Learn about plants, cells, and seeds. Find out how science can be a fun activity. Read jokes and fun facts about plants. The sites include interactive games, quizzes, printouts, in class activities, and video files. There are links to eThemes resources about different species of plants, the structures, and functions of cells.
I will sometimes use some of the "silly" e-mails that I get from my mother who is back in college.
Here is her latest one, called "The Giraffe Test"
1) How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door.
This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.
2) How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator?
Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door.
This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.
3) The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend...Except one. Which animal does not attend?
Correct Answer : The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. Didn't you just put him in there?
This tests your memory. Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.
4) There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat.
How do you manage to cross it?
Correct Answer: You jump into the river and swim across. Have you not been listening?
All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.
This has been given to many CEOs and the majority of them were found to have incorrect answers.
Also, this was given to a group of 4-year-olds, and the majority of them were found to have correct answers.
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What a great idea - to share our humorous sites! I enjoy going to Donald Simanek's website:
The dihydrogen monoxide hoax is a fun one to use when you are helping you students see that ANY chemical can be harmful and should be used appropriately. He has a link to that site.
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Michelle and Carolyn, loved your posts. The results of your questioning (CEO v children) intrigues me. If the studies are statistically valid, I would guess that the CEOs are "big picture" thinkers, while the children are "detailed oriented". The children have probably not yet reached the EF (executive function) cognitive developmental level. Piaget's theory would put them at the concrete operations level, where they cannot yet understand abstract concepts,but can employ inductive logic.
I love the test the kids pass. I have another suggestion for humor. I taught with different voices i.e. Einstein etc. If I did it all of a sudden the kids would look at me and start laughing. I have a friend with long hair. She would put her hair in a bun and place a plastic eyeball in it. When she turned to write something on the board (do teachers still do that) she would tell them she was still looking at them. Last week I attended the Texas state science teachers conference and I heard Dr. Debbie Silvers talk about stress. Her talk was hilarious and she has a website. She uses human to relieve stress (for the teachers at the conference) and for teachers in general. One of her jokes was as follows: She said she had ADOS. Attention Deficit Oh Shiny. It may not sound funny written out but she was good.
Why I bring this up is the fact that humor (the topic of this discussion) diffuses tension for both the teacher and the student who may feel lost in a subject they do not feel strong in. Therefore doing something zany might help students to relax and feel comfortable in your class and at the same time want to be there.
What do you think?
I think that you are right on target. I too, try to diffuse student stress and communicate with them just as a person and not only a teacher by sharing silly riddles and puns. The Einstein voice and especially the eyeball in the bun are too funny. Wouldn't we all love to be in a class like that everyday...this technique is also a discrepant event!
Love this! I dance, I sing (not well but who cares), I tell silly stories! I also make students laugh to diffuse a difficult situation (ie arguments/aggressive situations).
I have a collection of silly cartoons that I use on my warm up pages in a power point or SMART board page. The students love them! When I had a terrible computer crash (it was a sad, sad day!) I lost my collection. . . my students ASKED for me to find my pictures again!
Love humor! I teach middle school so it is laugh or cry and I always choose to laugh!
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Hi Annette and Thread Readers,
I also teach middle school - at an alternative school - so the humor that flows our hallways and classrooms is always a little off center!
I have several pictures, similar to the one I'm attaching, and at some point in the year will work it into a lesson, presentation, or a discussion as simple as "first impressions" or "common sense"!
So,_You_are_looking_for_a_job.jpg (0.05 Mb)
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Alyce, I love it! I have one of a dog being chased by a horse about horse play going to far! I will find it and post here.
Many laughing days to you!
funny-dog-pictures-horse-play.jpg (0.09 Mb)
Hi Annette & Thread Readers,
That picture is great! Can't wait to use it, I'll check my files and see if I can locate some more of these crazy things we show our students.
Enjoy your day, Alyce
The posts are truly funny. I wish I could have had teachers like this in middle and high school. I also know a chemistry professor at University of Tennessee who uses cartoons in his classes. He is Dr. Al Hazouri. He is fantastic and presents at NSTA and our local state teachers conferences.
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Larry Gonick's Cartoon Guide to Physic's is fun. On webelements http://www.webelements.com/
a nice cartoon for bonding is located in K potassium as well as others throughout the table. Na sodium is fun too.
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I did not realize there were so many different places to find humor in science. I am enjoying reading and will definitely check out some of the sites posted here.
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Thank you for sharing this fun & interactive website. We will be covering the periodic table next quarter & I'm currently looking for other fun ways to teach it to my students. Every year, the students create a 10 x 10 paper tile on their assigned element. It should include a description of the element, its common uses, & its location on the table. At the end, they build a giant periodic table by placing the tiles they created in its proper location. They have a lot of fun doing this, but sometimes, finding the necessary information can be too long & lengthy. I've purchased numerous books for them, but I think this website is the best so far! I can't wait to share it with them!
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I want to be in YOUR class...it sounds like a lot of fun...especially the water drop...I know what I'll be doing in the water/oceanography unit...heh heh...I'm going to "acquire" some of your ideas and try them out...I'm known for being rather odd at my school already...this should just add more to the fodder. :-)
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Just last week I was reminded of how amazing and bright my students can be (because we know that they're not always!). In Chemistry class I was going over our schedule of assignments for the week and I facetiously said, "OMG we have so much to do!" (That's Oh my gosh, in case anyone's wondering... ;) One of my students replied perfectly, "You mean MgO." I was so elated to know that all our practice with ionic nomenclature and formula writing had been meaningful!
Here are my three favorite Chemistry jokes (oldies but goodies):
A neutron walks into a bar and asks, "Hey, how much for a drink?" The bartender looks at him and says, "For you, no charge." [Clearly, you don't have to have a bar as the setting of this joke.]
Two atoms are walking together when suddenly one stops and says, "Oh no, I think I've lost an electron!!" The other one asks, "Wait, are you sure?" And he responds, "Yep, I'm positive!"
A man walks into a bar and says, "I'll have some H2O." The man behind him says, "I'll have some H2O too." And then he dies. [Sorry this one's so morbid!]
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These jokes are wonderful! I still remember how Fr. Garber, S.J. taught the meaning of equilibrium in A.P. Chemistry class:
"I throw great parties and people come from miles around. So many people come that the house becomes too crowded for new guests. But my parties are so great that people just keep coming! When a new person comes in through the front door, one person has to leave by the back door. When another new person comes in, another person has to leave through the window..."
I took A.P Chemistry in the 1978-1979 school year.
Also, Fr. Garber's dog, Wow Wob (Bow Wow spelled backwards), and his girlfriend, Scheherezade, made frequent appearances in his explanations of difficult concepts in Chemistry.
Finally, Fr. Garber relieved some of the sting for students answering his questions incorrectly by responding gleefully, "Yippee, not today!" or "Yippee, never on a rainy Tuesday!" (He only used the second reply on rainy Tuesdays.)
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Thanks for sharing! It sounds like this educator left a lasting impression on you. I'm also glad you shared his unique way of letting students know they didn't answer correctly without humiliating them.
I have really enjoyed all the links and ideas that everyone has posted. It just goes to show that not only are we a creative bunch, but we know how to use our sense of humor with our students to help spice up the lessons. Jolly good show all!
Calvin and Hobbes has always been one of my favorite cartoons for Science. https://www.google.com/search?q=calvin+and+hobbes+Science+cartoons&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ibu2UPmyE6afyAGrv4GQBQ&ved=0CCwQsAQ&biw=904&bih=661
Over the years I collected a bunch of cartoons and regularly have them available for students to apply the Science they see in the cartoon to the concepts they have been learning. It’s really interesting when they have to identify what science is “made up.” Last year we took it a little farther and had students identify what would have to happen for the “made up” science become a reality.
Carolyn, I love the dihydrogen monoxide hoax with my middle school students. I read it with such a straight face and with drama and they buy it hook, line and sinker. I even have them write the name down and take notes of the absolutely horrible side effects and share the news with their families. It’s amusing because by the time they leave class they are totally stoked up to go out and correct all of the wrongs in the world. I am also amused that no one thinks about Googling dihydrogen monoxide, they just go home and get their parents all riled up too. Those that know me are pretty sure I am up to something, but there are those few that get on board with their child and come up with a plan to petition for change. All come prepared to share what they are going to do to fight these evils. It really is hard to keep a straight face. After they have had a chance to share their strategies I remind them to use what they have learned in their Greek and Latin stems as we break the word apart. As the reality dawns on them what dihydrogen monoxide is, some of them feel tricked, but most feel ready to take on the world.
Some of my favorite Science joke websites include:
http://www.sciencecartoonsplus.com/index.php - don’t let kids go on this one, there is an advertisement right off the bat for Playboy Original Cartoons. You have to peruse this site and choose cartoons that are appropriate and move them into another format for use. Most of these are higher level and more appropriate for high school or college.
http://www.andertoons.com/cartoons/science/ - this one is fun because the cartoons are amusing, but you can also sign up to have cartoons show up daily in your email or RSS feed.
http://www.glasbergen.com/math-and-science-cartoons/ Math and Science cartoons, personally I love the “Dog Math” cartoon
http://www.benitaepstein.com/science%20cartoons/science.html - some of the one liners are hilarious – I use this one to get the punch line and have the students draw their own version of the cartoon.
If you do a Google search “Science Cartoons” you will find loads of science cartoons. Just a reminder though, just because you can find it on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s free. We still need to remember copyright laws.
Thank you Steve and Ruth for the www.elements.com lead, I had never clicked on any of these – what a wealth of information and hilarity.
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There is a page on Facebook called "I (Bad F word)ing Love Science" that constantly posts innovative, funny, and useful things that can be used in the classroom.
There is also a sister page that is has a little nicer of a title.
I have collected several pictures, quotes, and ideas that I plan on using in my classroom to motivate my students, capture their attention, and connect their learning to something meaningful.
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The Far Side comics by Gary Larson is a classic source of science, historical and artistic humor. Comics such as http://communities.sportsnet.ca/servlet/JiveServlet/showImage/2-1875397-15089/farside-12.jpg have a comical take on famous science figures or sayings.
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I didn't even know about this until I started wandering through the forums. I love including cartoons in my lessons. I have several of these sites noted now. Thanks a million.
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Adah, I will do funny accents, too! I always use a French accent when I am discussing the metric system and some days I just have whatever accent gets their attention.
I also draw badly, so I take advantage of that and have the students guess what the drawing is supposed to represent today. I tie those into stories. Especially for force and motion - I draw two sumo wrestlers (made up of circles and a triangle for their shorts) to discuss forces pushing against each other. I draw an airplane flying across the top of the whiteboard and whichever student is being annoying that week gets tossed out to discuss rates of acceleration and another gets tossed out of a space ship circling the moon to discuss how things fall differently there. The students chosen actually like the extra attention and volunteer for additional opportunities to "demonstrate" concepts.
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I teach Introductory Chemistry to 8th graders. We have had fun with these chemical Element "Puns" http://sciencespot.net/Media/elempnsansw.pdf. It is a good way for the students to get familar with the periodic table and some of the names of the Elements also. I usually let them work in groups of three and the group that gets the most correct will get a prize. (something little- HW pass or something like that.)
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When I do chemistry, in 8th grade I use a play called "The Awful Eight" It is about greenhouse gases that are protesting outside the Environmental Protection Energy because they are trying to ger rid of them. The play has a lot of parts and we present to the 7th grade sciene classes once we have read it through and really understand the meaning.It is educating and fun.
Interactive Activity: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/tryit/dna/#
This one's older than me. A neutron walked into a bar and ordered a rootbeer (somehow the kids think it's funny that you say "rootbeer"), drank it down and asked for the bill. The bar tender said: "For you, No Charge..."
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Here's a link that is kinda neat. Not really a joke but funny:
I think all of these posts have one thing in common...making learning fun means we have fun learning! The teachers I remember best are the ones who made class enjoyable. Additionally, these are also the classes that I remember the most information from. My goal, as a teacher is to teach my students information that is relevant and that they will retain for a long time. I also want to teach my kids in a way that makes them love learning, and makes them want to continue learning for the rest of their lives.
Like Kendra, I also dress-up to as different characters to make learning fun for my kids. Since I'm an elementary teacher, on some days ending in zero (10, 20, 30), I will come in dressed as Mz. Zerro (rhymes with pero). I wear a purple wig and big fluffy dress and glasses that are big "zeros". I also dress up as Miss Frizzle to help my kiddos learn about science. I love Kendra's ideas, and I plan to borrow a few of her characters to add to my "guests"!
I really think that doing things like dress-up, using jokes, using cartoons, etc help our students enjoy learning, and by enjoying learning they are more likely to retain the information.
Thanks for all of the great ideas!
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In addition to humor, I find science songs to be a highly enjoyable and effective way of conveying content. Such songs used to be hard to find, but now youtube is loaded with science songs--though of greatly varying quality. I find that usually the most effective songs are parodies of a well knowm tune
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Hi Eric. Here's one I used not long ago.
Thanks for sharing that. Here are some I've used and enjoy
Fossil Rock Anthem
Why Does the Sun Shine?
Shoulders of Giants
Don't Break the Law (Rosengarten actually has quite a few videos)
Hey Eric. Just found this one tonight. It was on the NSTA site.
Check out the chemistry forum for some fun periodic table puns.
Hey Eric. Thanks for the links. I just watched "Shoulders of Giants" and I had to add it to my resources. Outstanding video!
Thanks for the link to the Fossil Rocks website. Just perfect for a course I am teaching on Earth Science.
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I got the link from Eric. I thought it was really neat. There's a really good Rap on Climate Change I really like:
And I love this one. It's called NASA Johnson Style which being a NASA volunteer educator really fits well!:
Thanks for sharing more videos. I like the one about NASA Johnson Space Center. As a former JPL Solar System Educator I like seeing all things NASA.
Thanks, Betty. I'm a current JPL Solar System Educator. Small world! Love including the songs and humor. Right now, we are viewing "Short Circuit" a little at a time and talking about how similar 5 alive is to the Mars rovers and Wall-E. I make the point about how uncanny it is that fictional stories and movies many times turn into reality given enough time and technology. We did the Duck Dodgers and Marvin the Martian patches as part of our Summer of Innovation program last summer. Today I did a demonstration on icebergs and glaciers including an experiment on saline exclusion followed up by this:
As you say, small world afterall!!
Thanks for sharing the new video.
I looked at your Profile. Been busy, haven't you?!!!!
Hi Betty. :)
I started out wanting to do all the SciPacks so I could use them in class and I guess I just got carried away.
These are some great videos that are being shared. I'm glad the videos I've posted are being enjoyed. "Shoulders of Giants" is one of my favorites.
I like the "NASA Johnson Style--" very well done.
I can't believe I forgot to add this one my first time posting videos
Meet the Elements
Hey, I like "Meet the elements, especially showing how they combine to form commonly recognized molecules, especially the components of living things. Perfect for my middle school kids. I copied the link and put it on my list of resources. Thanks!
Just wanted to share this image I found on, ashamed to admit it, but Facebook. Everyone on this thread can relate though, I'm sure.
Why_Science_Teachers_Shouldnt_Monitor_Recess.jpg (0.04 Mb)
Has anyone checked out the Youtube on Chemistry Puns?
These are so great. I believe that humor can be memorable and could help the students remember more than just taking notes. I have to hold on to all the sources listed above.
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I don't have any jokes myself but I love this idea. I think interacting with students in a humorous way shows them that you don't take yourself too seriously and lets them know they can trust you with their successes and their mistakes. It is a great way to build rapport with students.
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I love the idea of using jokes that are related to curriculum! Great idea. I think students minds are more open when they are relaxed and introducing a hard subject using humor would help!
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