Using Mythbusters to Teach Basic Research

Every episode of the popular TV show Mythbusters includes a segment that involves research.  I found using the show is an invaluable tool for teaching basic research terminology and illustrating to students that research can be fun.

In my first class I list and explain basic research terms, such as independent and dependent variables, hypothesis, correlations, types of samples, and sequencing.  In the second class, I recap some of the terms, answer questions, and once the students are confident they understand the material, I play a segment of Mythbusters.

The students have a task while watching the video:  Identify as many research terms as possible and provide examples used in the show. If it is a short segment, I’ll play it twice.  This allows the learners to find more examples and allows them to absorb the research that is being presented as opposed to watching merely to find terms and examples.

In the next part of the exercise I conduct a quick question and answer session about how often research is overlook even though it is directly in front of our eyes.

To wrap up, I show the learners examples of research that I found in online newspapers and ask them to use the terminology to re-word the newspaper articles.

Depending on the segment used, the entire Mythbusters research activity takes about an hour.  I discovered that using TV shows that are familiar to learners is an excellent learning tool.  They are engaged, entertained, and are learning.

While Mythbusters naturally lends itself to teaching research, with a bit of imagination and searching, many TV shows can be used to help learners understand basic terminology or concepts.

I’m interested to discover what TV shows other teachers have used to help their students learn. Please share your ideas in the comment box.

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