One Mayflower High School chemistry teacher has chosen to bring artwork into the classroom.
Heather Templeton said the periodic table is the most important part of chemistry. Without basic knowledge of it, a student cannot move on.
"The periodic table is foundation for everything [you] do in chemistry," she said. "It’s hard to learn when you do not understand the elements."
The problem is that most companies make periodic table charts that have too much information on them, she said. Come testing time, teachers have to take them down so as to not give students resources to cheat.
Templeton started thinking of a way to not only provide her students with the basic information, but also bring a little color to her science-lab classroom.
After seeking permission from the principal and the maintenance department, Templeton allowed her students to pop out the ceiling tiles and paint the periodic table elements on them.
While she gave them artistic freedom, students were only allowed to paint the element symbols, atomic number and atomic mass, giving the students more of a guide to go by instead of a full-fledged answer.
Templeton said students have to know the atomic name and symbol anyways to move forward in the subject.
She said students really enjoyed the project and that previous students have stopped by to express how much they wish she would have come up with the idea when they were in her class.
Because of this, she has chosen to not finish the tiles this year — the group is up to 67 out of 118 — but allow next year’s group to add their personal touches to the classroom.
"I don’t know if I have a student that didn’t enjoy the whole process," she said.
Templeton said students said they take pride in being able to look up at the ceiling tiles and examine their work.
So far, the learning part of the art project seems to be effective, she said. To begin with, the students were all assigned an element. From there, they researched the element, what it was used for and then chose how they were going to decorate the tile.
"It gave them an opportunity to do a little more exploring than what we do in class," she said.
She said especially for science, it’s hard to come up with creative ways to teach, but all teachers at MHS try to incorporate as many hands-on activities as possible to really engage the students.
"This [was] an opportunity to do something outside the box," she said. "I’m always looking for things [and] different ways to teach."
Templeton, who is a visual and kinesthetic learner, said she tries to explore teaching methods that reach all her students and their own personal learning styles.
Allie Davis, a junior at the high school, said she is more pulled toward the arts than math and science.
"I enjoyed [the project] because it [helped] tie together creativity with learning the elements," she said.
Davis said by doing something unusual and different, she and the other students were able to retain the information easier than learning about them on paper or creating flashcards.
Davis, whose element was Rhodium, chose to do a random splatter paint, abstract design on her tile, something she said she chose because she is random.
"I think it turned out pretty good," she said.
(Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)