Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes are challenging and often require a lot of study time to memorize the many formulas and concepts. But once you become familiar with them, the pieces fall into place. One method for remembering a large quantity of information is the use of mnemonic devices — memory tools that aid in creating shortcuts and recalling information easily. It could be anything from acronyms, a tune, or forming a silly yet memorable sentence where the the first letter of a word represents another idea. We put together a list of seven mnemonic devices from various STEM subjects you’re likely to encounter. And, of course, have fun creating your own!
1. Order of the Planets (excluding Pluto)
Since Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet, there are only eight planets to remember: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. The first letter of each word in the mnemonic device represents the eight planets closest to the sun.
Mnemonic: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos
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2. Features of a Living Organism
We determine whether an organism is living or non-living by using these seven life processes: Movement, Respiration, Sensation, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, Nutrition.
Mnemonic: MRS GREN
3. Five Great Lakes
The five great lakes – located on the United States and Canadian border – make up the largest body of freshwater in the world. This acronym is a simple way to remember Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Superior.
4. Order of Operations
In complex math equations, follow the order of operations – Parentheses, Exponents, Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract – because if you forget or skip a step, you’ll arrive at the wrong answer. Use this mnemonic to remember which operation comes first.
Mnemonic: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (PEMDAS)
5. Colors in Rainbow
The colors of the visible light spectrum are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. It sounds like it could be someone’s first name, initial and last name.
Mnemonic: ROY G. BIV
6. Levels of Classification
The organization of living things is grouped into these main biological categories: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. As you get further down the taxonomy, these groups branch out to more sub-groups.
Mnemonic: Dear King Phillip Come Over For Good Soup
7. Geological Time Periods
Geological time periods are used by scientists to describe the timing and relationship of events that occurred in Earth’s history. The geological periods include: Precambrian, Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, Recent (Holocene).
Mnemonic: Pregnant Camels Often Sit Down Carefully, Perhaps Their Joints Creak? Possibly Early Oiling Might Prevent Permanent Rheumatism