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What Can A Biology Teacher Do On Valentine's Day?

The only time I regret being a high school teacher is around a holiday. 

Don't get me wrong.... I love teaching high school biology, and I particularly love the teenagers that I teach.  But, I see the elementary teachers doing so many cute and fun activities that just look so adorable!  And they have incredibly cute decorations for every season!  Sigh..... I only have my collection of Einstein posters haphazardly stuck around the walls.  In high school, there are generally two problems with celebrating the different holidays in our classrooms:  One, the students think they are too cool and too grown up to be doing silly kid stuff.  And two, if "it" is not on the blasted standardized test at the end of the year, then woe be unto you who deviate from the "you must teach to the test" curriculum plan!!

For me, it just so happens that I usually manage to be teaching the circulatory system around Valentine's Day. Although not nearly so fun as exchanging valentines and getting lots of treat bags, at least it does involve the heart.  And I bribe my students with candy.  What is better than labeling the parts of the heart while munching on chocolate hearts?  None of my high school students have ever been too cool to turn down my candy!!

So what can a high school biology (or any science) teacher do for Valentine's Day?  Even though I don't dare stray from my stringent curriculum map, I thought I would do a little searching on the web for fun/interesting things you can use in your middle or high school science class on the sweetest day of the year.

So don't go anywhere.  I am about to go search the web for a few links for you.  I'll be right back!

Okay, here is some of the cool stuff I found.  The first thing I found was a short activity on writing a biology or science related poem.  This can be done in class and will only take a small portion of your class time.  Students can be placed in groups and asked to write their poem with a partner, especially since Valentine's Day is all about partners.  This activity covers a lot of bases:  you are still teaching science, it is a cross-curricular activity, AND students are doing group work.  (This  would score me lots of points in our state evaluation system!)  Here is the complete lesson, if you want to click over to it:  Biology Valentines

How about this one?  Here is an article entitled, "Valentine's Day Dating Tips From Lovestruck Scientists".  In this article, there are dating tips with scientific research studies to back them up.  Even if you don't want to read these to your science class, you should go read them!  This is very interesting reading!

How about a lab activity?  This activity is called Crystal Hearts and looks like it would be a lot of fun.  It doesn't really fit in my biology curriculum, but it would be great for a middle school general science class or a high school physical science class.  (Yes, the clip art shows a cheese heart - not a crystal heart - but I just liked this picture!)

How about creating secret, invisible messages while teaching a little acid/base chemistry?  Here is a free download from my friend at Nitty Gritty Science.

Here is an article to make all of your students feel better about all the chocolate they have been eating all day long:  Eat Chocolate!  It's Good For You!   This article should eliminate a lot of guilt!

And last, here is a current event.  I have decided to take time out of my busy class schedule to show this short video clip.  It is called "Humanoid Robot Woos Valentine Shoppers."  This is one amazing-looking robot!!


  1. Hmm... I hadn't even thought about this. I'm in the middle of going over meiosis with my 9Bio class. So while we will continue to discuss separation of chromosomes (and are planning on doing a lab with Twizzlers), we will not be COMBINING gametes on Valentine's Day.

    Now a heart dissection, that would be dark...

  2. Haha...Great comment. I don't recommend the combining of gametes in your least not the human gametes! But have you ever done the activity from Carolina Biological called "Sex in a Dish? It is one of my absolute favorite labs, and the title is perfect for grabbing high school students. It involves growing C-Ferns for several weeks. At just the right moment students can watch (with a microscope) the antheridia release sperm cells and swarm the egg cell. It is a pretty amazing thing to watch!

  3. Nice! I did a sea urchin fertilization lab at NABT a few years ago which was terrific. If we had the facilities here to raise the sea urchins after the lab then I think we'd do it. There's a good online sim at Virtual Urchin, which makes a nice companion piece for a unit on embryonic development:
    - Scott

  4. Hi Scott. I would love to do the sea urchin lab!! But alas, like you, I don't have the set-up in my lab that would allow me to do this. I have never heard of Virtual Urchin, but I am headed there right now to check it out. Thanks so much for the tip!

  5. Teaching on a block schedule, some lessons don't line up with a given holiday. Some ideas I have though, depending on the unit you are in - "You're Not My (Blood) Type" - I also call this one "Dracula's Dilemma" at Halloween where students look at compatibility/donorship/receiving of blood types using colored water. If in genetics, having kids determine phenotypes and genotypes and then drawing some holiday creature/ symbol - at Halloween, I do pumpkins, at Easter, I do bunnies, but at Valentine's Day, it could be creating hearts or even cupids with given characteristics. Just a few suggestions.