Jesse Hillis wants to make science stick. The Signal Mountain middle school teacher understands he's dealing with the Internet generation and uses that to his advantage. "Videos on youtube with somebody singing a science concept, whether it's a funny rap video or... kids tend to remember stuff like that."
From funny videos, PowerPoint presentations and hands on experiments, Hillis transforms a topic that might be mundane into something engaging. 6th Grader Jasmine Helwa says "he explains it in a fun way and when we did kinetic energy we made a model coaster, so he made it fun but we were still learning."
On this day, the textbooks are closed for a lesson on environment and sustainabilty. "Did you know that Carmike Majestic 12 was LEED certified?" he asks one group of students. Hillis assigned them a local business or organization to research and report on.
6th Grader Blake Swanger says "we got on the computers and we searched things up. Our was Volkswagen and we would search things up like what do they do to be in LEED?"
Hillis asks how using recycled materials, rain water, and solar panels will benefit Chattanooga. "Do you guys understand why a lot of these places use rain barrels?" One student answered "so they can make rain water toilets."
Some students like Hillis' projects so much, they bring the lessons home to teach to their parents. "I didn't realize a lot of that so it makes me feel really good. If you can get the kids engaged and act excited about it, and you know I love teaching science, so it seems like if I can bring that energy to the classroom consistently, the kids buy into that."
Hillis says if students know you're having a good time, they want to be involved.
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