Shark tank

Today I did a very simple variation of a lesson plan with students and they enjoyed the "modern" approach.  We played Shark Tank.

The show is very popular in the US.  In the show people present their plans for a business and they either get funding or not.  This activity is not about getting funding, but a simple presentation put into a more fun framework for students.

The task

To start, I showed students the following video.  It is a review of much of the terminology we have learned so far this unit.

I started the video at 2:05.

I stopped the video at 8:07.  You will see at that point, the narrator presents a research question: Do humans solve problems faster when given caffeine?

Students are in groups of 4 - 5.  They are asked to design an experiment to ethically test this research question.  I gave them 7 - 10 minutes to do so. 

After the time was up, one member of each team came up to the front of the room. For effect, while they were coming up to the front of the room, I played the Shark Tank theme song.

Each group presented.  After each group had presented, the students had time to think about which experiment was the best.  I played the theme music again, and then students voted. Students were asked to justify their choices on paper before they voted.

The debriefing that ensued led to a lot of important learning.

  • The use of repeated measures vs independent samples - advantages/disadvantages
  • The use of placebos
  • Is any type of drug use ethical?
  • How many conditions can they have?
  • How do we operationalize "problem solving?"

I then played the conclusion of the video in which an example is given.

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