5 Must teach science lessons for Back to School

Back to school season can be a bit crazy, but it is essential to set the tone for the rest of the year right from the get-go. This means that you may need to repeat procedures and rules.

At the start of the school year, I always repeat certain lessons with all of my classes. There are some things that they just cannot hear enough, and let’s be honest, a lot of information seems to get lost over the summer.

Here are my 5 must teach science lessons for back to school.

Studying chemistry educational background. Microscope, books and colorful liquids at classroom blackboard with chalk drawing of molecular structure. Back to school, experiment and research concept

1. Lab Safety

Lab safety is probably the most important that you are going to teach. Labs do have the potential to become a disaster zone if not managed correctly. Accidents do happen, but we need to try our best to prevent them. Our students also need to know what to do when they spill something or break something.

This topic must be reviewed every year! Creating a lab safety contract is a good way to reinforce the importance of lab safety and a contract always makes it feel more “official”.

Keep reminding students of lab rules throughout the year. Posters are a great way to reinforce and remind them. I love these from Nitty Gritty Science. Let’s be honest, you need some sarcasm if you are to survive Middle and High school sciences!

I love using this Color by Number activity as a quick review (or even as a sub plan!) with Middle School classes.

2. Lab Equipment

It is so important that students know the correct names and proper use of lab equipment. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve had to say “you do not stir with a thermometer!”. I also have a mini heart attack every time a test tube is called a beaker! Taking time at the start of the year to go through the equipment and explain the functions will save you a lot of stress and time later.

I show my students the different pieces of equipment, they complete Scribble Notes, review with card sorts, and much more.

If you are looking for a fun, engaging activity, you can use this free deck of Boom Cards and the free Color by Number activity as a fun way to review this topic.

3. Metric System

The metric system can be overwhelming to students if they are not used to it. As with any mathematical concept, practice is key! I get my students to practice conversions throughout the year. For my AP classes, I focus a lot on the smaller units (𝝻m, nm) as they do come across those often, especially when working with magnification in Biology. Teaching them to calibrate a microscope with a stage micrometer is much easier if they already have a good grasp of the conversions.

4. Scientific Method

When teaching the scientific method you can introduce a lot of fun activities. This topic also allows for students to create their own investigations based on interesting observations they have made. Pinterest is a gold mine when it comes to ideas for this topic.

5. Root Words

I’m a firm believer that if you understand language, science becomes easy. Understanding the origin of key scientific terms makes it easier to remember definitions and deduce meanings. 

I love teaching Greek and Latin roots in my Science classes. Creating a word wall with a Greek or Latin Root of the week is a great way to introduce vocabulary into your lessons. 

My students love using these color by number activities to research the roots and to see how many they know. I use Boom Cards as a review throughout the year. These decks are perfect for those last days before a holiday or a sub-plan! For more ideas on using Boom Cards in your classroom, be sure to check out my blog post full of tips and ideas!

I hope this helps you with some lesson ideas for the start of the year. Remember to grab this exclusive Metric System Color by Number Freebie to use with your classes.