Thursday, March 5, 2015

SOLSC #5 - Mole Infestation in my Classroom

Join me as I participate in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Other "Slicers" can be found among my students in the comments of my class blog. There are also several hundred teachers participating at

Almost everyone who comes into my room, and happens to look up, usually asks, "What are those things?" Along the ceiling, peering down on us are my moles. They stretch from one end of the ceiling to the other and well into my "overflow" room. My students have been creating them each year for our Mole Day celebration.
A panorama of the 350-450 moles in my classroom. They are just below the ceiling on the far wall!

Mole Day is celebrated at 6:02 on October 23rd of each year by chemistry teachers to honor Avogadro's Number and the Mole. A mole is a number, just like a dozen is a number. A dozen = 12 things. A mole = 602,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or 6.02 x 10^23) things. Its the way chemists measure numbers of atoms and relates to using chemical formulas to predict amounts of a product. We celebrate it on October 23rd because it is 10/23 (Just like Trucker day is celebrated on October 4th - 10/4 Good Buddy!).
Go to for more information on Mole Day
As a fresh young teacher in my early twenties, I was working to find interdisciplinary ways to teach chemistry. I learned about Mole Day at a science convention my first year teaching and was given a pattern showing how to sew a mole. I gave the pattern to my students and suggested they create a mole for extra credit and then name it with a ridiculous pun. The results were wonderful, with moles such as: Tai-Kwan-Mole, GuacaMole, The Incredible Molk, and Molehammad Ali being created and shared. A few of my students put them around my science lab where they gazed down on us from above the Channel 1 TV, the fire extinguisher, the Chemical Spill kit, The Fire Blanket box, and various other perches. Over the next nine years they MOLE-tiplied and by the time I moved to my current school, there were dozens. Wanting to leave the next teacher a clean slate, I packed up all the moles in a 50 gallon trash bag and moved them across the state to Denver.

While I love travel and experiences, I'm very much about being rooted in one place and going on adventures from there. Moving to a new school and back to Denver was scary. I had been in a great situation before but knew I was also ready to push new boundaries and learn new things. Creating new relationships, teaching middle school instead of high school, relearning my way around Denver: all were unknown and at least gave me some anxiety.

Dark Side of the Mole next to The King of Rock and Mole
Upon entering my new room, it was full of tables, desks, chairs, materials and supplies that had never been mine, were not organized by me, and rather intimidating. I had no idea where to start and was feeling rather lost overall. I had a car load of my own things and luckily, one item was the bag of moles. Along the drop ceiling, was a perfect niche for the moles. I pulled a chair from one of the stacks, opened the bag and started placing the moles along the ceiling. With several dozen familiar faces looking down on me from above, I felt this room was uniquely mine. It was a lot like crafting perfect first line to a poem or slice; you know it will take some work, but it's clear the whole piece will work out. I got down off the chair and got to work setting up my classroom, sure this new adventure would work out.


  1. Holy moly! What a decorating concept! Nice slice!

  2. I absolutely loved reading your post! Definitely unique! Thanks for sharing your classroom (and your knowledge of moles) with us!

  3. Oh my daughter and I (HS sophomore, taking Chem this year) were talking about the mole that they have to make in her class. I totally didn't get it. "What's a mole?, I asked. She tried her best to explain it, but I didn't fully understand what she meant until I read your slice tonight. How funny!!


  4. Love it! I clicked on over, feeling afraid and expecting a story about rodents in the ceiling. One year we had lizards in the ceiling of our school! But this was not that at all. I love this idea. What a fun project.

  5. Wow! I have never heard of Mole Day. What a cool idea, kind of like Pi Day. I love your moles, they are so cute. Your students are very clever with the puns.

    1. On my Mole Day Assignment it says, "The worse the pun, the more the fun!"

  6. I always love what the students create, Max, every year. It's a great project, a total "mole patrol' that makes your room you! Happy you told about it!

  7. What a superb slice! Loved reading the story behind those moles I have walked by and smiled at so many times! Thanks for sharing the moment your room felt yours! Such an important one!