Top 10 countdown

This exercise is a part of Educator Guide: SN 2017 Year in Review / View Guide

Purpose: To review 2017’s top science stories or class content from the entire first semester.

Procedural overview:

Activity 1: Match it up! Students can work in groups of three to play an organism matching game after reading the “Life finds a way” page for homework. Organisms highlighted include flamingos, tardigrades and the bearded dragon lizard. Groups may create their own game that classmates can play based on other information from the issue.

Activity 2: Top 10 semester in review Have students start a semester review by creating their own Top 10 list of science experiences from the semester. Have students describe what was learned in each experience, explain the concept covered and give an application of the learned concept. Students may present their Top 10 science experiences in a timeline or infographic format.

 Approximate class time: 1-2 classes.

Activity 1: Match it up!

Have students read the “Life finds a way” page for homework before coming to class. Download, print and prepare the Match it up! game for groups of three students. The PDF for the game can be found at this link.

Cut out the squares containing the names and photos of the organisms. Also cut out the squares containing clues about each organism. Shuffle the clues and name cards together, and place them in one stack face down. Each group of three students should get one stack of 20 cards. Follow the instructions below.


1) Shuffle the cards and then set them out face down into five rows of four cards. 

2) The first player turns over any two cards. If the two cards match — the name card matches the corresponding clue — the player picks up and keeps the pair and then goes again. If the cards don’t match, turn them back over in their original positions. A player’s turn ends when he or she doesn’t make a match.

3) Once all the cards have been picked up, the player with the most matching pairs is the winner. 


  • To decrease the difficulty of the game, keep the clue cards and name cards separate throughout the game. Shuffle clue cards separately from name cards, and place each set face down in its own pile. Each group of three students should get one stack of name cards and one stack of clue cards. Place all name cards face down in two rows of five cards, and place all clue cards face down in a separate rectangle of two rows of five cards. When it is a player’s turn, one clue card should be turned over and one name card should be turned over to see if they match.

If time permits, allow groups to create another game based on information from this issue. Here are some examples of games students could create, or have them come up with their own ideas:

  • A board game based on rolling dice to work your way toward solar system destinations visited by the robotic probes listed on the “Mission debriefing” page.
  • A Jeopardy!-style game based on facts from the 10 articles.
  • A Monopoly-style game where you compete to gather technologies from this issue to rule the world.
  • A bingo game based on vocabulary from the Top 10 articles.

After groups have finished creating a game, have them swap games with another group. Once the group finishes a game, allow time for groups to give each other feedback for game improvement.

Activity 2: Top 10 semester in review

Have students work in groups to review the key concepts of the semester by looking back over Science News readings, textbook chapters, notes, labs and other related assignments. Based on that information, have groups or individuals create their own Top 10 list of science experiences from the semester. For each of the 10 experiences, students should explain what they learned, explain the concept covered and give an application of the learned concept. To get an even larger in-class review session, have students share their Top 10 with their classmates by creating and presenting an infographic or timeline.