In Fall 2020, Ed Lee at Texas A&M University found himself pondering giving 6,000 final exams in a pandemic environment that had his students spread across hybrid, in person and online lab courses. How could he keep his final exam consistent across all of the courses and keep his students engaged in the process?
The answer he came up with was to meet them where they are online - TikTok.
Lee and fellow instructor Alicia Altemose challenged their students to produce a TikTok video explaining an everyday concept they learned in their lab or lecture course during the Fall semester. Naming, the project #GIGCHEM, they went to work filming a sample video of Lee measuring the speed of light with a microwave and bar of chocolate. Most students responded enthusiastically, although there was an understandable amount of apprehension about such an innovative final project.
Though students weren’t mandated to use TikTok for their project (they could also use YouTube), most students did. Rising to the challenge, Lee’s students showcased their creativity alongside some of the most important Chemistry concepts they learned over the semester. The results were overwhelmingly positive with over 6.8 million views on TikTok and rave reviews from TAMU Chemistry students.
Not only did this project provide students a fun break from the traditional final exam stress, but it provided a connection between their lives and their studies. Watching their classmates demonstrate real life applications of Chemistry provided students with a connection to both the discipline and their classmates that many had not experienced before. It is unknown whether this will be a permanent addition to the TAMU First Year Program Chemistry curriculum, but they will certainly be doing it again this Spring!
Learn more about the TAMU #gigchem project with quotes and feedback from students here and watch their favorite videos on the TAMU TikTok page.