What Lies Beneath the Upper Crust?
Grade Level: 6-9
Source: JOI Learning,
Adapted with permission.
Bombarded by Web sites, the evening news, newspapers, and popular magazines,
citizen scientists often have to interpret scientific information directly
from the media. Sometimes this can be a confusing process. How can you,
as a citizen scientist, figure out whether science information you get
from the media is reliable? More importantly, how can you find out what
the information means for your life and the decisions you make?
The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), an international marine
research program, offers a unique perspective on these issues. Like many
research organizations, IODP sends press releases about scientific discoveries
to the media that you may eventually read, hear, or see reported. This
activity will use IODP as an example to help you find ways of checking
science news stories for accuracy.
- Copies of one or two recent science news articles from the Internet,
a newspaper, or a news magazine (one for each person)
- Access to the Internet
Work in pairs to read over the science news story carefully. Follow the
steps below to find out if the information in the article is accurate and
- A research organization such as IODP should be listed or mentioned
in the report. If not, look for photograph credits.
- Conduct an Internet search for the organization, and find its list
of press releases. The relevant press release may be difficult to read,
but other reference materials may be provided that can help you interpret
For example, see the Scientific American article, "Drilled Core
Exposes Hitherto Unseen Layers of Earth's Crust," available through
the Expedition 312 classroom activity at http://www.joilearning.org.
Was IODP listed? Conduct your Internet search and see if you can find
the press release.
- If the organization that sponsored the research isn't listed, try
searching for a scientist mentioned in the report. Who is listed in
the Scientific American article? Where does he or she work? What will
you find by conducting an Internet search for this scientist and his
or her university?
- What is the subject of the article? What did the scientists do that
they've never done before? Answer this question, and use the relevant
keywords to search the Internet. How many references did you find? Does
this help to verify the story?
- Finally, if you've located a Web site for the organization that sponsored
the research, in this case IODP, look for an education page that might
offer videos, photos, slides, and a variety of interpretive materials
that might improve your understanding of the science in question.
for videos, slides, fact sheets, and activities about the science of IODP