Monday, August 16, 2010

Fake Science

Sometimes, the best way to learn something is to start from what it isn't. We have a laugh at the outrageousness of text or other media, then move on to analyse where they went wrong, and hopefully we come up with the truth.

One website that's an example of this is The Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, part of the Kelvinic University branch of the Wild Haggis Conservation Society. It's a brilliant resource to use when you want to discuss reputable sources with your kids. Kids could follow up by creating their own website or blog to provide information about a fictitious creature of their choice. (I'm seriously tempted to make one about Chookus biblio!) There are so many details that make the website look believable - listing them would be an excellent basis for some real learning. 

Fake Science is another excellent example. Here you'll find posters done in a retro style, offering such silly science as an explanation for double rainbows - everyone stops to photograph the first rainbow, and the light from all those flash bulbs refracts into another rainbow. Or that your part is the seam that holds your hair on your head, and when the stitches fall out, your hair does too. Discussing what is incorrect in each poster is an excellent focus for real science education. I love how information is presented in different ways in the posters, and really appreciate the effort that's gone into their creation. I think kids would enjoy the opportunities at Fake Science for reading and interpreting visual information in the form of infographics. This makes the website a great place to start when you want to have kids look at ways of presenting information visually.

An idea for follow up on exploring the posters is to encourage kids to create one of their own, either independently or in class groups. Making a fake science poster actually requires a deal of research into the real science, and then into almost believable fake science. Children could use a word-processing or graphics program, or draw/paint a poster on paper.

If it's video you need, show your kids this wonderful movie, Monstrous Wildlife, about Graboids, on Vimeo. I had to resist the urge to actually look them up to check if they were real or not!

Monstrous Wildlife from Frank Robnik on Vimeo.

Another website I mentioned recently that would be an excellent focus for some reading and writing with your kids is Learn Something Every Day.

(Image credit, Dru on Flickr.)


  1. Donna Perugini17 August, 2010

    I'd like to see a 'fake fair' in schools. It would definitely show the creative side of each child.

    Seeing that octopus in the trees made me think of walking through the woods here in the Pacific Northwest, Washington State, USA. Now I have to think about the 'Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus falling on my head! Can you tell me what they like to eat? ;)

  2. Book Chook17 August, 2010

    Bet they have a penchant for writers, Donna. Watch out!

  3. Kelly Be A Fun Mum17 August, 2010

    I love this idea. It has a touch of reverse physiology about it. It makes you think.

  4. Book Chook17 August, 2010

    That's it exactly, Kelly!

  5. planningqueen20 August, 2010

    A Fake Science fair sounds like such a hoot. My older boys will love this.

  6. Book Chook21 August, 2010

    I can see a Fake Science fair absolutely taking off! Glad your boys will enjoy it.


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