Atomic Musical Chairs & Periodic Table Bingo Help Sixth Graders Grasp Chemistry


Atomic Musical Chairs make learning fun and effective at The Buckley School.

Sixth grade students recently took on the roles of electrons as Sixth Grade Science Teacher Chiquita Battle turned chemistry into play. The students barely contained their excitement as they “orbited” during Atomic Musical Chairs, acting as structural components of a classroom-sized atom while using colored balls in a basket to represent protons, neutrons, and a nucleus. The game helped turn what could have been a tedious science lesson on elements into a fun learning exercise.

“Turning potentially difficult lessons into fun experiences helps relay the information in a way students will remember,” said Battle. “The hands-on approach reaches every type of learner.”

Periodic Table Bingo is another childhood game Battle has tailored for the class. The game features the periodic table elements on custom-made bingo cards (from Buckley’s own print shop) and game chips. The real teaching moment comes when the students must identify the periodic table element before they get to cover each square.

“The main thing is they’re learning and having fun, and they don’t consider it learning,” said Battle. “It also relieves test anxiety. They end up knowing more than they think. It opens up their eyes.”

Battle said her passion for science blossomed in her seventh grade year when a substitute science teacher led the class in a fun, hands-on project.

“He said the word ‘phenolphthalein,’ and it just came to life for me. I don’t remember anything in science before that,” said Battle. “He did that project with us, and I was totally hooked.”

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