In the Classroom: AP Biology, AP Chemistry Students at Fremd Participate in Unique Scientist March Madness

Mad Scientist Madness bracket

Mad Scientist Madness bracket

A unique assignment for students in AP Biology and AP Chemistry at Fremd High School has students representing 64 different historical scientists and dueling it out to be at the top of a March Madness bracket. However, the assignment has nothing to do with basketball.

The Mad Scientist Madness assignment allows students to rally behind an randomly assigned scientist from the areas of Earth Science, Chemistry, Biology, or Physics. Students research the scientist, defend why their scientist should be tops in the bracket, and vote for a winner on Schoology, an online classroom portal.

“Sometimes in AP classes the fun that science really is can get lost while preparing for AP tests. This is a reminder that we are there to have fun,” said FHS science teacher Brad Graba. “The depth of knowledge students gain is much greater when they take ownership in a project like this. When they are finding the information and synthesizing it into a presentation, it helps stick with them for a longer time.”

Graba created the assignment with science teacher Karl Craddock. The two combined their AP Chemistry and AP Biology courses through Schoology, and students are in the first round of voting. As students’ scientists get voted out, students will be required to continue commenting on their peer’s posts and participate in the discussions. Graba said next year when they present this assignment, they will focus on more female representation in the bracket. He wants to reflect how the gender stereotype is changing in the scientific field.

Read a humorous sample debate of scientists Watson and Crick vs. Norman Borlaug below (click to enlarge).