What's the funniest scientific discovery you've ever made?
Do you think scientists should spend time studying topics like those mentioned in the article? Do you think they should be honored when they do? Why or why not?
According to the article, researchers studying the word "huh" learned that it is a basic error signal in languages around the world. Those studying natural disasters learned how experiencing these events as children affects future CEO's. What scientific value do you see in these studies?
At the end of the article, Justin Schmidt, the bug guy, states: "Sometimes these crazy things provide a lot of insight." Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
- Instruct students to think about daily life at school. Then have students brainstorm ideas for a scientific investigation they could conduct on one of these topics. For example, which brand of pencil lasts the longest? Do lunch lines move faster on some days of the week? Do the lines move faster when certain foods are served? How many minutes do students really need to move from one class to the next?
- Discuss options for investigating each topic in a way that could yield humorous results.
- Review the process for conducting a scientific investigation. In groups or with a partner, have students select a topic, conduct an investigation and summarize the results.
- Rejoin as a class. Invite students to present their findings to the class. As they do, remind them to focus on the offbeat, quirky or humorous aspects of what they learned.
Encourage classmates to rate each presentation on a scale of 1-10 based on three criteria: quality of investigation, usefulness of findings and level of humor in the achievement. Tally the results and find a suitable way to honor the winner.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
As a class, select a topic to investigate. Then divide the class into small groups. Have each group conduct its own scientific investigation. As groups summarize their results, encourage them to describe the logical connection between steps in their investigations. Challenge them to explain why their investigation was unique.
Divide the class into small groups. Have each group select a topic and conduct its own scientific investigation. As they summarize their results, encourage students to explain in detail how each step or event in their investigation connected to the next. After groups present, select groups that studied the same or similar topics. Challenge the class to analyze similarities and differences in the groups' methods and the results they obtained.
Assign each student a partner. Have each pair select a topic and conduct its own scientific investigation. As pairs summarize their results, encourage them to outline the reasoning behind their approach and explain why their results are valid. Challenge students to write and present their results in a fashion that matches the tone of the assignment.
Assign each student a partner. Have each pair select a topic and conduct its own scientific investigation. As pairs present their results, challenge them to identify evidence that helped them reach their final results and inferences they were were able to make. Challenge students to write and present their results in a fashion that matches the tone of the assignment.
In this Smithsonian article, researchers decipher a mystifying 15th-century map that Christopher Columbus may have consulted before his voyage.
This online exhibit chronicles the history and travels of the Vikings. It includes an interactive map, video, board game, vocabulary, a teacher's guide and a family guide.
In this lesson, students will map a trail around their school and then follow some of Thomas Jefferson's instructions for writing detailed reports. Younger children will make drawings based on William Clark's report on the sage grouse, a bird that was new to science.
In this online exhibit, students will learn how Atlantic-based trade shaped modern world history and life in America. Some of the topics covered are the tobacco and sugar trades, the Middle Passage and the transatlantic slave trade and the piracy that plagued the Caribbean Sea and North American coast during this period.
This Smithsonian article hightlights the winners from the 2014 Ig Nobel awards.