15 Teachers Who Went the Extra Mile With Creative Ways to Engage Students
Teaching is one of the noblest professions around, and we all owe a great debt to our teachers. There are, however, teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty to not only educate their students, but surprise, inspire, and amuse them too.
Take a look at these extraordinary teachers who used their creativity and imagination to engage their students with their lessons. Sometimes all it takes for a lesson to stick with you is for a teacher to think outside the box.
1. Chemistry Gets Explosive: Teacher Carves Pumpkins With Chemical Reactions
Sometimes it's hard to get students to pay attention and retain information, but an exploding pumpkin in the classroom isn't something they're likely to forget in a hurry. This ingenious chemistry teacher decided to kill two birds with one stone by demonstrating the chemical reaction between Zinc and Hydrochloric Acid and carving a pumpkin.
A common experiment for demonstrating the reaction of zinc and hydrochloric acid is to mix both in a vial, with a balloon on top. The reaction liberates hydrogen, inflating the balloon.
Hydrogen is extremely flammable, so once it gets near an open flame it explodes. So this teacher gutted and cut shapes from a pumpkin, and placed a hydrogen balloon inside, before carefully introducing a flame.
The force of the explosion forced out the pre-cut pieces from the jack-o-lantern, revealing a perfect Halloween decoration.
2. Science Is Magic: Showing Students the Wizardy of Physics
Sometimes all it takes to grab the attention of your pupils is a silly hat. This physics teacher shows that science can be magical, by sporting a fetching wizard cap.
After all, science is just magic that can be explained and documented.
How my physics teacher does experiments from r/funny
3. Roleplaying History: Teacher Gives Students a Taste of the Middle Ages
It can be difficult to get students interested in an era that is so different and distant from the modern day. This teacher, however, found that he could grab a lot of attention and prompt a lot of questions just by dressing the part.
Nothing will get kids curious about the middle ages faster than a knight in shining armor.
4. Questioning Philosophy: A Funny Account of Philosophy Through the Ages
Philosophy can seem dense and confusing. With so many schools of thought stretching back hundreds of years, it's understandable that some students might feel like they're out of their depth.
This philosophy teacher, however, decided to make a light-hearted point about how philosophy is everywhere. When you can turn a lofty subject on its head by drawing a pop culture parallel, suddenly it doesn't seem so daunting.
Found this in front of my professor's office from r/funny
5. Anatomy Takes Guts: Show Don't Tell In a Biology Lesson
How do you succinctly illustrate the human body and its inner workings for a classroom full of students? Well, one option is wearing your heart on your sleeve...among other organs.
Dutch teacher, Debby Heerkens, went viral in 2015 when she stripped down to a layer of spandex clothing illustrated with muscle structures, organs, and bones. Students were so interested in her unique approach that they asked her to present similar classes in the future.
6. Calculated Cursing: Teacher's Shirt Gets Students Laughing In the Nerdiest Way
Math isn't a subject that students typically associate with hilarity. This teacher sought to brighten his students' day with his shirt choice, which managed to be both mathematical and funny.
If students can "get" the joke, then they're obviously understanding the subject to some degree. It's a simple but effective way to lighten the mood and make math fun for the class.
7. Solve for X-Mas: A Mathematical Way to Celebrate the Holidays
Speaking of making math fun, this teacher managed to work a holiday message into an equation for his students. Not only did it give his students a way to test what they'd learned, but they were rewarded with a surprising message at the end.
Giving students the opportunity to test their skills and decode a hidden message is a genius way to reward their work.
8. Physics Can Be Cruel: Throwing Popstars For Science
Want to grab the attention of your students? Why not throw an eye-catching famous name into the mix?
This physics teacher probably wasn't popular with Beliebers, but they've become a hero to the rest of their class and the internet thanks to this hilarious test question. Posing your question as a situation your students can easily envision will always help them to engage with the subject matter.
I love my physics teacher from r/funny
9. The Bright Spark: Proving Chemistry Can be Cool and Colorful
Science doesn't have to be all heavy textbooks and dense definitions. Sometimes science can be about explosions and colorful flames.
This chemistry teacher knew that the flashier aspects of science work best when engaging his students. Showing students how different chemical compounds burn, and how they differ in color and brightness, is a super simple and fun experiment to get them interested in chemistry.
My chemistry teacher, Michael Farabaugh, who recently won $50,000 dollars in the Jeapardy Teacher's Tournament. He's a pretty cool guy. from r/pics
10. Yo Mama Jokes: A Hilarious Way to Teach Physics
Nothing beats the classics, and students will always fall for classic yo mama jokes. This physics teacher obviously knew their audience pretty well and whipped up this genius test question to get them laughing while they worked.
Simple little touches like these can make such a huge difference when it comes to remembering information later on. If a student can be surprised and amused by a lesson, they're likely to remember it during exam season.
My AP Physics teacher put this on our quiz today... from r/pics
11. Acrobatic Algebra: Teacher Goes Above and Beyond to Illustrate a Point
Classrooms can get pretty sedentary, so why not shake things up a bit with some movement? This teacher decided to demonstrate his lesson with some pretty impressive moves.
His unusual teaching technique went viral after his student shared a photo of the lesson online. When you can grab the attention of your class and the internet at large, you're definitely doing something right.
My algebra 2 teacher so extra doing a handstand to demonstrate reciprocals ??? Its cool tho ? pic.twitter.com/uiZskDSgoT— luizsza (@speedskatergirl) September 3, 2016
12. Updating Ancient History: Bringing 21st Century Fun Into The Lesson
When teaching history, it's important to keep in mind that students have probably already engaged with a lot of these stories before either through films or video games. Why not exploit references to pop culture to capture the imagination of your class?
Like this teacher, who made full use of a lesson on Sparta. No doubt students were quoting the film for the rest of the day while learning more about Sparta than was revealed in 300.
13. Science in Motion: This Teacher is Going Places
Everybody loves gadgets, and gadgets can only exist thanks to science. Why not get students engaged by showing them how to build their own awesome tech?
Like this teacher who built a hovercraft for his class. Hands-on lessons are the best kind of lessons. If students can get involved, they're far more likely to be interested in the subject and retain information.
My cousin is a science teacher. He built a hover craft for his students. from r/funny
14. Why We Fall: Best Explanation of Gravity Ever
When dealing with heavy theories and topics, sometimes it's best to have a visual aid. Teacher Dan Burns went viral for his utilization of a visual aid when explaining gravity.
Burns stretched lycra over a circular frame and dropped marbles onto the surface. The seemingly simple display serves to illustrate general relativity, and how matter bends space. It's a fantastically simple way to illustrate a complex theory and allows students to interact with physics in a rewarding, engaging way.
15. Incredible Blackboard Skills: Teaching Computers Without A Computer
Teachers often find themselves in situations where they must make do with what resources they have at their disposal, even if they're not especially suited to the job at hand. One teacher who overcame the limitations of his resources in the most inspiring way possible is Richard Appiah Akoto.
The Ghanaian teacher teaches communication technology, something he's managed to do without the aid of computers. Akoto teaches his students by drawing detailed diagrams of programs like Microsoft Word on the blackboard and instructing them on each function. His story went viral earlier this year and attracted the attention of Microsoft, who has since reached out to help Akoto with his fantastic work.