After a short review problem on the board, students are distributed into groups.  A problem set is being distributed, with the answers providing the combination to a locker in which is stored reward chemistry, in a kind of scavenger hunt mode.   “This is the coolest thing we have ever done in chemistry,” a student exclaims.  Excellent use of not-too-intense pressure, collaboration, and competition to motivate students’ focus on problem-solving.   The problem sheet has four questions, three of them grounded in real-world word problems.  These are hard problems; the kids are all leaning in, graphing calculators blazing away, as they talk to each other, work out different methods.  Nice to see lots of laughter; they are really working together as a team, to my observation, and the urgency keeps them focused.

The solutions are found, locker number and combination numbers each being answers to the four questions, and students race down halls to find their “treasure.”  Nice.

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