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New "JREF in The Classroom" Lessons! PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by JREF Staff   

The James Randi Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the release of four new additions to our JREF in the Classroom offerings:

newJREFlessons

  • Pareidolia: Do You See What You Think You See?
  •  Illusions: Our Visual System
  •  Cognition: Are You Rational?
  •  Power Balance: Sports Enhancement, or Placebo?

These are downloadable lesson plans for use in high school and junior high school science and psychology classes that use topics in pseudoscience and the paranormal to teach critical thinking, skepticism, and scientific inquiry. Each lesson is designed to expose students to concepts identified in the National Science Content Standards and AAAS science literacy benchmarks.

These free lesson plans for teachers (and parents) are additions to JREF’s growing catalogue of grade-specific standards-focused resources including lesson plans, activity guides, multimedia materials, and more. JREF’s aim with these free resources is to inspire an investigative spirit in the next generation of critical thinkers, providing the intellectual toolkit needed to navigate a life full of difficult decisions, confusing information, and conflicting claims.

Teachers can contact  education@randi.org for a free printed classroom kit for any of the eight topics available so far, and to get more information on ways to incorporate JREF’s critical thinking materials into their classrooms.


Pareidolia: Do You See What You Think You See?Pareidolia: Do You See What You Think You See?

Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]

This lesson explores the development of human perception and the tendency for human beings to perceive meaningful patterns in ambiguous stimuli. The lesson is designed to prompt students to critically examine their own memories and views of events in a way that promotes open-minded inquiry of current knowledge. Open-mindedness, in terms of one’s ability to accept that current knowledge may be inaccurate, has been shown to be a key component of good reasoning. Additionally, this material exposes students to several specific extraordinary claims and encourages them to consider alternative explanations for evidence and phenomena related to those claims. Discussion questions prompt application to other areas of inquiry.

Grade level and time commitment: The text in this module was written for students in Grade Seven and above. Teachers are encouraged to modify the exercises for use in lower grades. The time required to complete this module will vary with depth of instruction and specific assignments given.

National Science Standards: Unifying Concepts and Processes, Science as Inquiry, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives History and Nature of Science

AAAS Science Literacy Benchmarks: The Scientific Worldview, Scientific Inquiry, The Scientific Enterprise


Illusions: Our Visual SystemIllusions: Our Visual System

Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]

This lesson explores the development of human perception and a few of the ways in which this development leads to incorrect interpretations of visual information. The lesson is designed to prompt students to consider the implications of misperception and to critically examine their own views of images and events in a way that promotes open-minded inquiry of current knowledge. Open-mindedness, in terms of one’s ability to accept that current knowledge may be inaccurate, has been shown to be a key component of good reasoning.

Grade level and time commitment: The text in this lesson was written for students in Grade Seven and above. Teachers are encouraged to modify the exercises for use in lower grades. The time required to complete this module will vary with depth of instruction and specific assignments given.

National Science Standards: Unifying Concepts and Processes, Science as Inquiry, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

AAAS Science Literacy Benchmarks: The Scientific Worldview Scientific Inquiry, The Scientific Enterprise


Cognition: Are You Rational?Cognition: Are You Rational?

Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]

This lesson explores some of the many errors that human beings are prone to make when evaluating information and making decisions. It discusses explanations for those errors, which are consistent with the scientific literature of the field. The lesson is designed to prompt students to consider the implications of errors in thinking and to critically examine their own views of images and events in a way that promotes open-minded inquiry of current knowledge. Open-mindedness, in terms of one’s ability to accept that current knowledge may be inaccurate, has been shown to be a key component of good reasoning.

Grade level and time commitment: The text in this lesson was written for students in Grade Nine and above. Teachers are encouraged to modify the exercises for use in lower grades. The time required to complete this module will vary with depth of instruction and specific assignments given.

National Science Standards: Unifying Concepts and Processes, Science as Inquiry, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

AAAS Science Literacy Benchmarks: The Scientific Worldview Scientific Inquiry, The Scientific Enterprise


Power Balance: Sports Enhancement, or Placebo?Power Balance: Sports Enhancement, or Placebo?

Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]

This lesson explores the claims made by one brand of sports enhancement products. It discusses the evidence presented by the distributors of the products as well as user testimonials. It also provides instructions in proper scientific testing of the claims. The lesson is designed to prompt students to consider to critically examine the evidence in a way that promotes open-minded inquiry.

Grade level and time commitment: The exercises in this module are appropriate for Grades Eight and above. The time required to complete this module will vary with depth of instruction and specific assignments given.

National Science Standards: Unifying Concepts and Processes, Science as Inquiry, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

AAAS Science Literacy Benchmarks: The Scientific Worldview, Scientific Inquiry, The Scientific Enterprise


Other skeptic lesson plans for educators available from the JREF include:

othercoversDo You Have ESP?

Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]

This lesson is designed to allow students to come to their own conclusions about the validity of ESP claims through the use of carefully designed and controlled experiments. Students will also learn how to accurately evaluate the significance of the results guarding against, experimenter error, bias, and intentional fraud. Students will explore concepts of critical thinking and the scientific process.

The Case of the Cottingley Fairies

Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]

This lesson examines one of the most celebrated public hoaxes in history. Students will learn the Cottingley story while exploring the role of publicity, celebrity, and physical evidence in shaping the public’s perception of extraordinary claims.

Dowsing: Science or Pseudoscience?

Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]

This lesson explores the history, claims, methods, and science of dowsing. The lesson uses hands-on activities and discussion questions to help students examine the subject in a way that promotes well-reasoned skepticism of unproven and pseudoscientific claims.

Astrology: Superstition or Science?

Teacher Edition [PDF] | Student Edition [PDF]

Astrology: Superstition or Science? is a downloadable lesson for use in high school and junior high school science and psychology classes that allows students to explore the scientific method, critical thinking and parapsycholological research through an examination of the history of belief in astrology. Students can come to their own conclusions about whether the claims of astrology merit assent, and engage in hands-on experiments about astrological predictions.