Molympics - A Collaborative Project between HS teachers and Students


We teach it, some celebrate it, and we try to make it engaging for our students. What is it? The mole concept and Mole Day! So how do we make it engaging for our students? Let me introduce #molympics.

The idea of the #molympics was born on Twitter when five chemistry teachers from across the US got to brainstorming. Each of us had various ideas about how to engage our students in the topic of the mole and realized that collaboration was key. It started with a lab activity related to moles and the use of math conversions in chemistry. Some teachers refer to this as dimensional analysis. We were looking mostly for a review of math concepts that had been taught at the beginning of the year. By October, several of us had not yet taught the mole concept, but wanted to include Avogadro’s number in celebration of Mole Day.

Our collaborative discussion on social media resulted in five activities (events) not very different from what most chemistry teachers do in their own classrooms. The difference was that by framing the lesson into a competition, the students came to class ready to do some math review and learn about the number 6.02×1023.

In honor of true competition we decided to take on an Olympic theme, hence the name #molympics, and started the day with all students reciting the mole pledge. This was followed by a short movie including introductions of teams of students from each of the different high schools across the US. Then the games began...

The students this year really did seem to understand the concept of the mole better after being introduced to the topic via a friendly competition. The positive frame of mind and engaging atmosphere made a difference in their learning. Side benefits were that students learned how to use social media in a professional manner and they saw an example of how to collaborate with a wider group of people using twitter and Google Docs.

It doesn’t matter if you teach single periods or larger blocks, we can give you suggestions on how to make it work. The materials needed include equipment commonly found within a high school chemistry lab. If you interested in joining us and having your students take part in the event on Oct 23, 2014 then please let us know by submitting the #molympics 2014 registration form.

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Comments 1

Cindy Seiwert | Tue, 09/23/2014 - 14:43

You might have your students take a look at xkcd creator Randall Munroe's book What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.

There's a hilarious "chapter" that looks a the consequences of having a mole of moles!  Truly makes the point that a mole is an almost unimaginable amount.