Do your high school science students have trouble when it comes to naming chemical compounds? Maybe they just can’t grasp the concept of the mole. Or meiosis.

It’s no small feat to not just reach, but also generate excitement about tough science concepts with all of your students. But where there’s a tough-to-teach science concept, there’s a TpT Teacher-Author with a resource that will help make the concept make sense for your students. We’ll raise a beaker to that!

The Meiosis Concept

Color Your Own Karyotype: Independent Assortment of Chromosomes LessonMy color your own karyotype activity really helps students use their understanding of meiosis to see how each human being is different, even if they have siblings!” says Science and Math With Mrs Lau. “In this exercise, students color their own unique karyotype to show the inheritance of chromosomes from their grandparents. There are a lot of open-ended questions teachers can bring up with this activity. One example is how a person can be related to one grandparent more than another. (It’s true! You are not 1/4 genetically related to each!). Students love this activity, and it can really help themstart to grasp genetics beyond Punnett squares.”


The Mole Concept

Mole Concept for Chemistry Interactive Notebooks & LapbooksBond with James says, “The mole is a difficult concept that many chemistry students struggle with. This may lead to frustration later on in the curriculum when the mole concept is important for success on other topics such as stoichiometry. I developed a simple hands-on activity, along with interactive notebook activities, to introduce the topic. Students are able to refer back to this as we solve problems throughout the unit. I shared a modified version of this activity with all the chemistry teachers in my district a couple years ago and wrote a blog post about it here.


Natural Selection

Natural Selection Activity: Evolution of Butterflies!From Scaffolded Math and Science: “Natural selection is hard for kids to grasp — for instance, how and why did the giraffe’s neck stretch? In my Natural Selection Activity: Evolution of Butterflies, kids color butterflies whatever color they want. Then half of the class tapes them on the walls wherever they want while the other half waits outside of the classroom. When all are taped on the wall, the non-tapers find and gather as many butterflies as they can in one minute. At the end, the ones that are left on the walls are seen to be the ones that blended into their background! The kids love it, and it teaches natural selection in one class period!”


Naming Chemical Compounds

Naming Compounds Bundle - Spinner, Puzzle, PowerPoint, Notes & Quizzes“Some students find naming chemical compounds so difficult!” says Mrs Brosseau’s Binder. “‘When should we use Roman numerals?” When should we use prefixes?’ and ‘What the heck is a polyatomic ion?!’ After hearing these questions too many times, I put together the ultimate package for teaching naming in Chemistry. Not only does it have a PowerPoint, student notes, homework, and quizzes; it also includes a very fun puzzle that addresses common misconceptions and a spinner to help students decide on their own how to name a particular compound. I know my students are still using the spinner in their senior Chemistry classes because their teachers are thanking me! Here’s the complete resource.”


The Law of Conservation of Mass

Steel Wool Lab- Conservation of Mass“When I taught physical science, one of the concepts students needed to understand was the law of conservation of mass,” says Science Rocks. “There are a lot of labs that demonstrate how mass shouldn’t change before and after a chemical reaction (ie: Alka-Seltzer and water). But what if the mass increases after a chemical reaction? Did it break the law of conservation of mass? In this steel wool lab, students have to figure out why the steel wool gained mass, and discuss an open and closed system. This lab is always a winner!”


Literary Skills in the Science Classroom

Literacy Strategies for Biology: Plasma MembraneFrom Science Island: “Literacy Strategies for Biology: The Plasma Membrane is designed to help teachers with a tough topic: how to teach literacy skills in the science classroom. When my school in Hawaii was going through restructuring, I had to design constructed response questions and implement other literacy strategies as part of our school-wide agreements. It was challenging, but I hope other teachers can benefit from my work.”


Transcription and Translation

Bundled Biology Quizzes Special Education/ELD/Autism 21 PPTFrom Special Education – Peggy Simpson: “Transcription and translation is one of the most difficult to teach my co-teachers (and students). Since we are a Road To Success Academy (RTSA) for incarcerated juveniles school, many teachers have to teach outside of their core subject. To help teachers (who have to teach Biology and Earth Science but don’t necessarily “want” to teach them), I’ve put together these 10-question (with added activities and technology links) tests/quizzes for each core concept. And I’m still adding! They are editable and allow for differentiation depending on the student’s needs/wants. Plus, they allow a non-science teacher to quickly learn the important concepts and impart them to their students. Here’s my Bundled Biology Quizzes Special Education/ELD/Autism 21 PPT and Bundled Earth Science 21 Quizzes Special Education/Autism/ESL.”


Cladogram Activity: Build a Cladogram (Classification, Taxonomy, Cladistics)And some terrific insight from Amy Brown Science: “For the tough concepts in science, it’s all about being ‘hands-on.’ Much of what we do requires abstract thinking, and many of our students are concrete learners. It’s essential that we find ways to turn the teaching of the hard concepts into activities using manipulatives, lab activities, and other hands-on methods. One of my favorite resources is Let’s Build a Cladogram, which directs the Biology students through the process of making cladograms that are used as a tool for showing evolutionary relationships between different groups of organisms.”


Teachers helping teachers. That’s what it’s all about here on TpT. We’re busy building out this “Tough Concepts to Teach” series. Here are a couple past posts:

Tough ELA Concepts? TpT Teacher-Authors to the Rescue!
Tough Math Concepts? TpT Teacher-Authors to the Rescue!