After the birth of my youngest child I decided to get a teaching position at a school closer to home. Until that point, I had only taught in the elementary grades. As it turned out, a seventh grade science position had opened up in the middle school in the next town, and, shortly after I filed my application, I was called in for an interview. Because it was already early June when the opening occurred, things moved along rather quickly.
The day after my interview I was called back to schedule a time to present a lesson to a class of students. The only day available just happened to be the second to last day of school, and the only class available just happened to be an 8th grade class… The school only went up to 8th grade, and on the last day of school, these 8th graders were participating in their moving up “fun” day at a local amusement park…
Now, anyone reading this probably recognizes that these kids—on the second to last day of their eighth grade year—had absolutely no interest in learning anything more from any of their regular teachers – much less a teacher they had never seen before. So, to say I was a little nervous is an understatement. I learned that they had just completed a unit on space, so after scouring my brain to come up with an interesting hands-on lesson that related to space, I decided to bring in the microscale vacuum apparatus from Educational Innovations.
Since most middle schools don’t have access to one, very few eighth grade students had ever seen a vacuum bell, so I gambled that the lesson I selected would hold their interest. With two team teachers, the science department chair, and the principal in the room to observe, this really was a lesson on “pressure!” Read the rest of this entry »