We're All Mad Here: Chemistry Madness to Engage Students

We're All Mad Here: Chemistry Madness to Engage Students

Let’s face it, a constant challenge that we’re faced with as teachers is trying to find effective ways to keep our students on task, especially as we start getting closer and closer to spring break! As if being a high school teacher wasn't enough of a challenge, around this time of year you’ve probably started to hear students talk about plans for break and for your sports fans, who they want to see in the March tournament, their hopes for the four final teams and maybe even start to look at the tournament bracket breakdown.

Well, instead of trying to find a way to shift their focus to purely academics, why not merge the two together?

If you’re wondering how to bring the fun back into chemistry, then you’re going to love this!

I’m going to share with you a comprehensive and engaging activity that I’ve used with my students called Chemistry Formula Madness where your students will learn how to:

  • Identify ionic and covalent compounds
  • Write ionic and covalent formulas
  • Identify polyatomic ions
  • Practice finding molar mass

This will be your new go-to resource to help your students review important chemistry concepts through a head-to-head bracket tournament style lesson, bringing the Madness of March right into your classroom!

Chemistry Formula Madness is an excellent review over the stepping stone concepts needed to be prepared before going into starting equations or stoichiometry.

How to use Chemistry Formula Madness in your classroom:

For many students, understanding chemistry concepts can be difficult to grasp many times because there is little visual support for these lessons. Even when using a molecular model kit, if there is no personal connection to what they’re building, then you’ve lost them before you even started.

The Chemistry Formula Madness lesson helps to explain chemical concepts such as ionic and covalent bonds, writing formulas and finding molar mass through a fun and visual activity that they can engage with and already has meaning to them!

Finding a way to lean into your students' interests, pop culture or anything that is familiar to them, like basketball, is the perfect hook to create conversation, engagement and meaningful connection to a lesson.

Ok, so how does The Chemistry Formula Madness activity work and what’s included?

First, a huge benefit is that the resource can work for both in-person and remote classroom settings, plus you’ll receive both PPT and Slides files with a print version of the same activity, if you prefer it be more hands on.

This activity is modeled after a bracket breakdown of any sports tournament, specifically basketball where there is already so much excitement around college teams and the annual basketball tournament held in March.

If you have students who aren’t familiar with the bracket breakdown, there are directions included and the "rules" for each round of Chemistry Formula Madness, along with Teacher answer key 🔑

Depending on the pace of your class, you will want to make sure the students have already practiced with a few specific chemistry concepts, such as:
➡️Writing molecular formulas from given ionic or covalent compounds
➡️Identifying ionic and covalent compounds when provided the name or molecular formula
➡️Identifying polyatomic ions when given a molecular formula
➡️Finding the cation and anion charges of ionic compounds of a given molecular formula
➡️Calculating the molar mass of a compound from its given molecular formula

So, how does the Chemistry Formula Madness resource work?

Whether you present this as an independent or partner based activity, students will be given a set of listed compounds along with a bracket organizer.

Then after reading through listed questions, labeled as “rounds”, students will be guided to either write, identify or calculate chemistry based concepts. Here’s a little preview:

  • 1️⃣st ROUND: Practice writing formulas for specific compound
  • 2️⃣nd & 3️⃣rd ROUND: Reviewing vocabulary and polyatomic ions
  • FINAL 4️⃣: Calculating molar mass
  • 🏆CHAMPIONSHIP: Identifying the winning formula

Benefits of Using Chemistry Formula Madness

The value that this resource brings in making the activity so effective when practicing chemistry concepts is the high level of engagement that comes from trying to identify the winning formula.

By approaching these concepts in more of a game or tournament style format, it not only creates discussion and teamwork, but even a bit of competition, making it a fun approach to chemistry!

Imagine if you were to use this as a timed review to ramp up the level of competition, group discussion and engagement. Students won’t even realize how much emphasis is being placed on reviewing vocabulary and retention of key concepts because they will be so focused on the goal.

The goal for them: Identify the winning chemical formula.

The goal for you: Create a meaningful lesson that highlights the importance of engagement

Done and done 😎

What teachers are saying about Chemistry Formula Madness

Teachers are having so much fun adding Chemistry Formula Madness to their curriculum:

Check out the responses from this lesson:
🌟5 OUT OF 5
🌟“I used this as extra credit right before spring break. The students enjoyed it!”
🌟Students were engaged
🌟”This was a great review that wasn’t just another worksheet!”

If you’re looking for an activity that’s not your typical “practice writing…” worksheet and offer a little change of pace for your students, then THIS is the one for you!

You can get access to Chemistry Formula Madness right here.

If you’re wanting more, check these out:

💡As a quick refresher on how engagement can fuel your science classroom , visit Keystone Science Blog at checkout SEP-arating the Genius💡: How to Fuel Science and Engineering Practices in the Classroom
💡Feel free to explore Keystone Science for ready-to-use NGSS aligned notes and activities
💡Subscribe to my email list for weekly tips direct to your inbox.
💡Follow me on Instagram for daily tips, motivation, and facts you can use in your classroom!

I would love to hear your feedback, questions and success stories of how you are using Chemistry Formula Madness in your classroom.

Share in the comments or email me directly 👉🏻 admin@keystonesciencepa.com

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