Person on the Street (POS) Interview Grades 6-12

Angélica Allende Brisk, Cambridge Media Arts Studio (original author); Ana Caldeira, Somerville, MA High School, Tobe Stromberg, Cambridge (MA) Rindge and Latin High School, Marian Grogan, TERC (editors) 

In this media project, students create a video that documents unrehearsed interviews with multiple persons-on-the-street about a specific question or issue in climate science. To produce a compelling product, students will need to both understand the underlying science themselves, and be able to conduct and document a series of interviews to elicit interviewees' understanding of the science as well. 

Learning Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The POS project is well suited to uncovering gaps in knowledge and misconceptions commonly held by the general public about foundational concepts in climate change science. As such, the project can lead to "teachable moments" for students in clarifying and correcting their own misconceptions. Here are some examples:

  • What do you think is responsible for the overall warming of the planet?
  • Why is burning fossil fuels like coal and oil more of a concern to scientists than burning wood and biofuels?
  • How does carbon dioxide heat the Earth?
  • How can carbon dioxide be removed from the atmosphere? 

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Preparing for POS interviews requires students to think carefully about what it is they want to learn about what the general public understands about climate science, and then – through research and discussion – prepare themselves to become knowledgeable about the subject themselves. 

Other skills goals for this activity

Other skills include:

  • creating a non-threatening interview environment, and quickly engaging interviewees in responding to one or more questions
  • developing well-formulated initial and follow-up questions that may need on-the-spot tinkering as the interview proceeds
  • creating a storyboard and/or shot list
  • video and sound recording and editing

Context for Use

Audience

The POS project is suitable for use with both middle and high school students. Examples of content areas into which this project could be incorporated include:

  • Environmental science
  • Weather and climate
  • Media studies about controversial science topics

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

The activity will be more meaningful for students if they have had some background in climate science and exposure to how common misconceptions arise and can be ameliorated.

How the activity is situated in the course

Because the activity enable students to identify and "correct" (if even only to their classmates) misconceptions about climate science, it could be a good culminating activity for a unit on climate change.