Monday, August 13, 2012

James Randi Foundation Classroom Materials : Scientific Method, Critical Thinking ESP Classroom MaterialsThis coming fall I'll be facilitating a class at our homeschool co-op using classroom materials from the James Randi Foundation - JREF - where we will investigate and test for the existence of extrasensory perception. The module, "Do You Have ESP?" is designed to be done in just a few class sessions, and addresses critical thinking, mathematical and scientific analysis skills. The class I am doing is open to all ages, even the younger children will be able to participate in the testing if they want to, and we can delve into the numbers more with the older kids depending upon interest and initiative.

My goal in presenting this class is to spark the kids' imaginations, and to illustrate the tools and processes that go into good science in a fun and engaging way. While the module is good for evaluating paranormal claims, it really shines as an easy-to-utilize way to get kids working on and evaluating the scientific method.

As a project-based learning activity, the kids will be working through all the steps from setting up the conditions, to testing, and then analyzing the results. We'll be dealing with a wide scope of issues, such as how to assure accuracy, when to count tests or discard, and how to keep pre-conceived notions from skewing results. Bonus points if we can demonstrate an actual case that ESP exists, because then we'll apply for the JREF Million Dollar Challenge!

Having the materials all laid out, and using the testing format given, makes it much easier and faster than doing a long study in biology or physics, and much more doable for a layperson such as myself to present and teach. The only materials we'll need are the testing cards, and the space to set up the tests for maximum reliability.

Check out the other classroom materials available on the JREF site, all free for download, along with the other educational resources, including apps, videos and workshops.

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