This activity page will offer:
minds-on and hands-on experience in memory
opportunity to compare memory tricks
and ideas for improving memory
There are all sorts of ways to improve your memory. In addition
to proper diet, adequate exercise, reduced stress and healthy lifestyle
choices, there are strategies and memory "tricks" for improving
recall. Most likely, you've already learned to use some of these
practices. However, there are many different techniques that are
available to increase recall. In the following section, we'll offer
up an assortment of memory experiences that you might find yourself
using in other situations (if you can remember them).
An acronym is a very common memory device. It uses an abbreviation
that takes the first letter in each word to be remembered to form
a new word. Check out the familiar acronyms below. What do they
stand for? NOTE: Some acronyms use two letters from one word.
a United States map to select any five neighboring states. Use the
first letter in each of the selected state's name to compose an
acronym. Exchange acronyms with another student. Can you both identify
each others' states based upon decoding this memory device? How
might the order of the letters in the acronym communicate additional
information? (It might offer clues to the positions of the states)
Although you probably never heard the term "acrostic,"
you are familiar with its use. An acrostic is very similar to an
acronym. However, instead of using the first letters to spell a
single word, these letters are used to spell different words that
form a sentence or memorable phrase. The classification scheme for
living things might be a familiar acrostic: King Philip Came
Over For Great Spaghetti is a difficult phrase to forget. Therefore,
it remains a great tool for remembering: Kingdom, phylum, class,
order, family, genus, species.
Use the following sets of related terms to
create a memorable acrostic. Share your phrases with your classmates
and develop appropriate ones to help study for upcoming exams:
Phases of mitosis
b) Eras of geologic time
c) Groups of the periodic table
d) Sections of atmosphere
e) Countries in South America
f) Functions in mathematical quadrants
The rhyming structure of a poem offers a consistent and
repeating framework in which to embed words for recall. Historically,
epic stories such as Homer's Iliad were passed on from generation
to generation through recall alone. Even today's memory record holders
use poems and similar language structures to aid retention. Using
these types of linguistic strategies, individuals can recall the
value of pi to more than 40,000 places! Your challenge is a little
less daunting. Take a look at the 20 words below. Work with a partner
to compose a poem that will help you recall all 20 words in order.
Compare your work to the poems of classmates. What makes this type
of memory device most effective? Is there a particular rhyming scheme
that is more effective as a memory strategy? Explain.
A memory walk is another technique that improves recall.
A memory walk can involve either an actual setting or a fantasy
setting in which the words to be memorized are encountered along
a traveled route. Work with another student. Discuss which type
of route, actual or fictional, might create a stronger framework
for recall. Then, develop a strategy for inquiry that might compare
these two versions of a memory walk. Share your design with your
instructor and perform the test. Tally class results and discuss
what you have uncovered.
Chunking is another memory trick that helps recall by
limiting items to smaller "chunks." For example, a phone number
is often remembered (and recited) as three distinct chunks such
as 202-931-8956. Memorizing these three discrete chunks is more
effective than memorizing a series of 10 numbers (2029318956). What's
your social security number? Chances are you've chunked its recall
into three or four separate number series. So which chunk size is
best? Design a strategy for inquiry that would explore the most
effective chunk size in memorizing a series of numbers. Then, employ
friends and family to assist in your research.
Where were you when you learned of the horrific events
of September 11? Most likely, you remember the time and place when
you first became aware of this startling news. That's because the
emotional attachment to this event was powerful enough to generate
a strong and vivid memory. What else can you remember about that
moment? Can you describe your surroundings? Do you remember what
you were wearing? What other "memory- intensive" events might be
common to other students in your grade? Explain.
and Aging Resource Center
An overview on age related memory loss including an audio file of
a radio interview with Director of the UCLA Center on Aging, Gary
for Kids-Memory and Learning
An assortment of online memory tests, experiments and games.
Techniques and Specific Memory Tricks
An assortment of mnemonic memory techniques and links to various
pages that address a range of memory topics.
and Mental Calculation World Records
An assortment of unbelievable memory and math calculation records.
Advisors for this Guide:
Suzanne Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School, Wayland,
Gary Pinkall, Middle School Science Teacher, Great Bend Public Schools,
Great Bend, KS
Cam Bennet Physics/Math Instructor Dauphin Regional Comprehensive
Secondary School Dauphin, MB Canada