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Media Literacy Science Lesson Plans
Media Literacy Science Lesson Plans
Pages and Files
9th - 12th Grade:
Organic vs. Processed Foods
Stem Cell Perspectives
7th - 8th Grade:
5th - 6th Grade:
Evaluating Ecosystems in “Lion King” and “Finding Nemo”
Integrating Media Literacy
Scientific Fact vs. Fiction in the Movies
Volcanoes – Fact or Fiction?
3rd - 4th Grade:
Endangered Species – Creating PSAs
Evaluating Weather - Proverbs, Tornadoes and the Weatherman
Critical Thinking and Nutrition – Media and Food Choices
Understanding Matter – Through Literature, Poetry, and Cartoons
Using product testing to incorporate media literacy into a middle school science classroom
John Heath and Sandy Stiles
Middle School Science 7/8
For additional free online lessons integrating media literacy and critical thinking into the curriculum, go to
This activity, ultimately leading to a science fair, is designed to enhance the physical science curriculum and further deepen understandings by focusing the experiments on product testing. Product testing allows the teachers to introduce media literacy skills while still allowing for the pursuit of initial curricular goals and certain motivating factors such as student choice, experiential learning and authentic audience. Further, product testing gives the students a chance to work on concrete projects on topics of interest to them. Students can test anything from waterproof mascara to toilet paper and compare their results to product claims. After the projects are completed, there are a variety of extensions and opportunities for student production (for example, PSA's, Environmental Impact Statements, product advertisements, and so forth.)
: Students will,
gain knowledge of the scientific method with an authentic project
development skills in writing a good hypothesis
learn how to write a procedure
learn how to design a controlled experiment
learn how to gather, organize and present data for an authentic audience
learn the concepts of independent, dependent and controlled variables
enhance skills in searching for appropriate and useful information
enhance skills in critical reading and analysis
enhance skills in creating platforms for communicating information.
Students will understand the basic tenets of media literacy, specifically focusing on the points that all media are constructed and that all media have a message. Students will also understand what product claims are and learn how to analyze them.
As teachers, our goal was to investigate the effects of using three motivational factors to foster deeper understanding of the curriculum and media literacy goals, namely,
student choice, experiential learning
For the students, we were also interested in fostering the satisfaction that comes from working through problems with a long-term goal in mind.
to view SMART notebook files that are attached below, you can download the software for free at
1. Pre-loading activity: During the weeks before the official launch, show students videos of middle school science fair projects to give them a general understanding of the concept. Some examples of actual experiments are given below.
2. Introduce students to media literacy with some decoding activities.
01 Media Lit & Science Fair Launch.notebook
3. Do a model mini-project with students involving testing three different wood glues. First show classes an
Elmer's glue commercial
and ask students to decode it. Then as a group, show classes 3 different wood glue websites and ask them to decode them:
02 Sample Science Fair Project.notebook
For information about leading a decoding see
Key Questions When Analyzing Media.doc
, watch the short video: "
Leading a Constructivist Media Decoding
", and see
Tips for Decoding.pdf
and other resources at www.projectlooksharp.org.
4. Set up experiment and have the students follow the procedure to test the glues. (see attached.)
Brain-storm ideas for products students would be interested in testing and form partner / teams around common interests.
5. Once the product types are chosen, students investigate their backgrounds, usually by looking in Wikipedia, which works quite well.
04 Question approval & Initial Research.notebook
6. Ask students to find the chemical make-up of each product. This is done in a variety of ways: When available, use Material Safety Data Sheets. The packaging itself may have information (but often it doesn't), and Wikipedia also has ingredients listed under general categories, such as "hairspray."
7. Ask students to find the product claims for each product and list them out.
05 Product Claim Research and Hypohesis.notebook
8. Using the information gathered, students should work on phrasing the final question to be answered and creating a hypothesis.
9. With the help of teachers, students will write procedures to test the hypothesis and list materials needed. In some cases, procedures can be difficult to figure out, so further research may be necessary. Look in magazine databases (such as Electric Library) for sources such as "Consumer Reports" or Google the particulars. Each way can be effective for different products; no one way works in every situation.
10. Students buy the products (or have them purchased for them) and run the experiments in any venue that works, school or home. In practice, students have needed a lot of hands-on time with teachers. Because of this, mentors from the rest of the staff can be recruited to spread out the work involved.
11. Students record information in data tables.
12. Students are coached in creating the final documents prior to presentation: creating results tables on Word, graphing the data on
found online, writing an analysis of the data, and composing a conclusion statement. The conclusion statement should reflect the results of the experiments compared to the product claims. Writing sentence starters is often helpful. Here's ones that could help with the conclusion.
Conclusion with Sentence Starters.ppt
13. An opportunity for collaboration can enhance this project. ELA teachers can work with students to create a persuasive writing piece about their winning product. Posters on glogster.com would be interesting and reinforce what was learned through the experiments. PSA's can be written that reflect the impact that the winning product has on the environment, which can then be filmed if desired. Environmental Impact Statements can be written, using a format appropriate to middle school. Students can create videos of the science fair to show future students.
Additional Resources/Background Information:
To help students plan their projects and organize the information to be collected, workbooks can be created. Below are some sample pages which can be adapted as needed.
science fair timeline '11.doc
secrets to developing a project.doc
Possible Project Ideas.doc
Gathering Designing and Conducting the Experiment.doc
This lesson was produced during 2010-2011
as part of a collaboration between Project Look Sharp at Ithaca College and four NY State BOCES School Library Systems. The initiative brought together pairs of secondary science teachers and school librarians to develop models for integrating critical thinking and media literacy into secondary science content. The project was supported by federal LSTA funds awarded to the NY State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.
To view additional lessons from this series go to:
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