Are you a worn-out, underpaid science teacher? Are you spending all your energy trying to ignore the spitballs that cling to your hair as you write on the chalkboard? Or, are you desperately trying to feed the voracious minds in your class, before they go feral and eat you alive? Here’s an offer you can’t refuse:
Join the (soon to be) crowds of Bogus Science Teachers nationwide. Bring a touch of BOGUS to your classroom.
Share the Doc Gurley Bogus Award nominees with your class. You can even pull the original Bogus study and discuss whether or not these people truly deserved their award.
Invite students to nominate a science/health news item about for your classes’ own Bogus award. Or, choose some Bogus studies yourself and ask students to explain why these studies are nominated. Go for science news items that are extreme, topical, ridiculous (see this news item about a study that claims men go for looks when choosing women–if that doesn’t get teenagers talking, nothing will). The goal is the discussion about scientific principles and study design/limitations–not any one perfect answer. Anytime a student thinks critically about science news, that’s a win-win situation.
Ask your students to explain how someone could “fix” a Bogus study. Given infinite time and money, could it be done? Is the study only Bogus because of the conclusions? Is it the study design that is the problem? Or, are the basic assumptions so flawed that nothing can fix it? Again, the goal is the discussion and thinking, not any one perfect answer.
Have your students create their own Bogus study. The wilder the better. They can even write the news item that goes with the results. You can have one presented each week, or have everyone assigned to create a Bogus study at the same time–then present the studies one-by-one or pass them around. You can have other students assigned to Spot The Bogosity. Bogus studies can also be created or analyzed in teams.
Channel your inner Doc Gurley! Have an on-going class Bogus competition for real studies in the news (every week? every month? once a year?). Choose a competition winner for the most Bogus study nominated by a student, or the best analysis of real health news Bogosity given by a student. Winners get to choose a song download that will get played during class the next Friday (teacher chooses the volume!). You’d be surprised how much motivation you can get for $.99, an MP3-compatible boombox, and the opportunity to foist music on everyone during a class. Send your class Bogus nominees to Doc Gurley!