Reflection: Problem-based Approaches Student Research Design Principles - Section 2: Engage


The show “MythBusters” has become so known for its entertaining and educational take on common assumptions or “myths” about the world around us that Classroom MythBusting is a new trend! It is my guess that the success of this television series lies in the authentic way hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman use the engineering design process, scientific methodology, legends, rumors and myths to demonstrate the power of research. However, for me the magic is unleashed when Adam and Jamie reiterate their design, revisit their initial hypothesis, or identify a limitation in their investigation that requires a complete change in direction. This is truly experimentation at its finest!

Although most schools do not have enormous budgets for the safety equipment and manpower that the show's host enjoy...the spirit of the MythBusters series can still be experienced in our classrooms. Here are a few SAFE ideas:

Safe MythBusters Project Ideas

1. Dirtier than a toilet seat?

One often-quoted factoid is that due to constant handling, objects we use every day such as cell phones are covered in more germs, and therefore dirtier, than a toilet seat. This is a great candidate for a student MythBusters project thanks to the theatrical gross-out factor — and proper use of the scientific method.

2. Pop rocks and soda: Killer combination?

There are still some people around who believe the urban myth that your stomach could explode if Pop Rocks candies and soda were consumed in one sitting. The main objective of this project is to show students not to blindly believe every rumor they hear.

3. The James Bond scuba suit/tuxedo test

This experiment was inspired by a scene from the James Bond film “Goldfinger,” in which Bond reveals an impeccable white tuxedo underneath the scuba suit he emerged from the ocean wearing.

4. Pirate eye patches: Fashion statement or practical tool?

This MythBusters project idea explores an interesting question: Did pirates (and other seafaring folk) wear eye patches due to frequent eyeball-reducing injuries, or as a tool to help them see better when running above and below deck?

5. Will strangers accept free hugs?

There have been “Free Hugs” campaigns around the world, with different results. Have students challenge the myth that people who don’t know each other very will not want to hug one another. The school hallway or lunchroom are good places to conduct this experiment.

  MythBusters and the Engineering Design Process
  Problem-based Approaches: MythBusters and the Engineering Design Process
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Student Research Design Principles

Unit 1: Introduction to the Biotechnology Workplace
Lesson 10 of 11

Objective: Student will be able to list the main components of an experimental design and explain the purpose of having a hypothesis in a student-driven, STEM-based research project.

Big Idea: The research design of an experiment determines both whether the experiment is likely to succeed and the reliability of its results.

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