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Science - Spark a real reaction

What the lesson is about

How far, as a teacher, would you go to make your classes memorable? Pupils may be exposed to six or more lessons a day. How do you ensure that they remember yours, writes Simon Porter.

Record executives talk of "hooks" - part of a song that catches the ear and makes it stick in your head. Why can't teachers do the same thing? Who could forget the following lessons?

- The teacher takes off their socks, soaks them in a solution of alcohol, water and salt, sets them alight and then puts them back on, undamaged. The water stops the socks from burning in the low-temperature alcohol flame that has been coloured yellow by the salt. It is a dramatic demonstration of a chemical reaction.

- The whole class sits cross-legged on their desks meditating for 15 minutes. Focus on the movement of the ribcage and intercostal muscles.

- What about starting off in the dark, literally, watching a lava lamp? Follow through with discussions that link convection in the lava lamp to convection in the Earth's mantle - kettles, hot-water tanks and refrigerators.

- Be James Bond, vaulting a desk (theme tune in the background), evading a laser beam (using talcum powder), radioing M and checking forged banknotes with a UV lamp, then simulating returning home, switching on the TV with a remote and heating dinner in a microwave. This is a great introduction to the electromagnetic spectrum.

There is always a hook - it just takes time, thought, imagination and courage to find it.

What else?

Try Simon Porter's activities on TES Resources, from burning socks to speed limit statistics. KatieBall also shares a number of intriguing experiments to spark scientific interest in every pupil.

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