Saturday 9 February 2019

Come on baby, light my (Bunsen burner) fire

In 2019, I got assigned a year 9 Science class, something I specifically did not want. Mainly because I have focused mostly on developing the year 10 stuff and I haven't really got much in the way of resources or lessons for the year 9s. This means I am now busy planning what I need to work on to make sure I keep our classes fun.

One of the units we do is Introduction to Science, and part of that is learning how to safely and correctly use a Bunsen burner. In a previous school, I used to just give the instructions about lighting the burner, then got the students to do it. Later, this developed to using an online animation from Pearson Education (with no real risk of explosions...) and then lighting the real thing. Now, I think I may have well and truly overplanned this, and spent ages working on another way to do this.

We are still going to use the online animation, with a slide deck for additional information. The girls (I work in a girls' school) can work in small groups, decide the order of safely lighting the Bunsen burner. Once they have digitally completed this, they can again work in groups to light the REAL Bunsen burner while checking one another for the correct method. At this stage, I am going to be quietly observing making sure everything is OK, but actual teaching - not a lot needed, this is akō at work!

"So what?" you are thinking, "that's nothing special". Well, here comes the fun bit. Normally, we sign off the girls on a list to say they are proficient. Very boring. Now, once the girls feel they are ready to be checked, they complete a Google Form in quiz mode which has several sections, each with a list of possible stages for lighting the Bunsen burner. If they get this in the wrong order, they have to start the Form again, until they get all five steps correct which allows them to submit the Form. And of course, there is this great theme on Forms - very Sciencey...

So far, so good. The answers the girls give feeds into the usual Google Sheet, as per normal. I am using Autocrat as an add-on within Sheets, and I have set it up to create a certificate for the student from a Google Doc template, using the student's name as a tag for the script which inserts their name onto the certificate. This is then automatically emailed to the student so she has a certificate to prove her ability to safely light and use a Bunsen burner. The end certificate looks like this:
It wasn't complicated, but it took me a little bit of setting up in terms of time. I hope it is as much fun for the girls once they complete this activity... (Update to follow).


  1. Hi Nick

    I'm an Outreach Facilitator and work for Manaiakalani. I came across your blog post via Google +. What a great idea and thanks for sharing. I have been looking for a way to automatically send badges for completed work and Autocrat looks awesome, can't wait to give it a try. Looking forward to reading your update.

    1. Thanks, Kerry! I used to work at Tamaki College, and was there when they started on the 1:1 journey, so quite familiar with Manaiakalani! Which area do you cover?

  2. Wow how long ago were you at Tamaki?

    I work across two clusters Te Hiku in the far north which has 9 cluster schools and Kaikohekohe where there are 7 schools. My focus is in the secondary schools.

  3. I just discovered autoCrat this week too! Didn't think of using it to create certificates though! Great idea.