Do your seventh graders cast longing glances at each other, giggle without warning, and whisper in the halls? It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and, while love might not be on full display in the halls of my middle school, there’s a little bit of romance brewing here and there. I like to use whatever my students are interested in to help them make connections between their world and science, but Valentine’s Day is tricky. Here are a few Valentine’s Day science activities for your middle schoolers.
Valentine’s Day science of love and attraction
Valentine’s Day is a great segue into human anatomy, neurotransmitters, and feedback mechanisms. The brain releases certain chemicals, such as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, when we experience romantic attraction or love. These chemicals are responsible for the feelings of euphoria and pleasure associated with being in love. Additionally, the hormone testosterone plays a role in attraction for both men and women. Understanding the biology of love and attraction can help us better understand our own feelings and experiences of love. Furthermore, the study of pheromones, chemicals that are secreted by animals and can affect the behavior of other animals, can also be related to Valentine’s Day. Pheromones can play a role in attraction and mating behaviors in animals, and some scientists believe that they may also play a role in human attraction.
Valentine’s Day science of Chocolate and flowers
It’s hard to separate Valentine’s Day from boxes of chocolate and bouquets of flowers, and this can also be a great opportunity to explore the science behind these things. I like to use roses as a springboard to talk about genetic engineering, heredity, and Punnett Squares. You could even talk about flower preservation or classification of flowers.
Here’s a jigsaw activity I’ve done for the last few years. Students read a short article about the science of Valentine’s Day and answer Discussion Questions. Then, each person in the group shares what they learned. It includes 5 articles – The science of chocolate, Animal mating rituals, The science of love, How does the hart work, and The science of roses.
Valentine’s Day science of how hearts work
Another fun lesson for Valentine’s Day is cardiac structure. Do a virtual tour of the chambers of the heart or have students compare mammalian, reptilian and avian hearts.
The Science of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day may not be immediately associated with science, but there are several scientific concepts that can be explored. The science of neurotransmitters, hormones, chocolate and flowers are all great ways to connect this holiday to your students!