Lesson Plan Idea: Using the Scientific Method to Assess Advertisements – Fit Armadillo

Lesson Plan Idea: Using the Scientific Method to Assess Advertisements

lesson plan

The Teachers’ Tone Up is just ONE week away! To help my teacher fans and clients fit fitness into their lesson planning, I’ve been sharing some of my old lesson plans and resources this past month. Today’s Blog Bonus is a lesson idea for the science teachers.  Once you’ve taught your students the scientific method, try this lesson to have them really dive into the scientific process and see how what they learn in your class can help them on the streets 😉

Lesson Plan: Using the Scientific Method to Assess Advertisements

1.) Students will be able to apply their knowledge of the scientific method to assess strengths and weaknesses of scientific studies.
2.) Students will be able to use evidence to explain whether studies cited as backing advertisers’ claims are valid.

Students will be shown video clips (advertisements, news clips, popular talk shows) for toning shoes.  They will then be asked to identify what the advertisers are claiming and how they would go about testing these claims. Finally, they will be broken into groups and given various scientific or “scientific” articles (the advertisers’ research, independent studies, etc.) to analyze.  Each group will then report back to the class on the study they reviewed and whether or not it supports the advertisers’ claims. Students will also note how the study could be improved. 

Note:This lesson plan was created around the toning shoes that were popular about 4 years ago.  Feel free to modify any of the materials to use a more popular product (ideas noted at the end).

Video Clips:
YouTube playlist with 9 segments that apply to this lesson. Use those that best apply to your group of students.

Click the image to download a word file. You are welcome to modify as needed 🙂

Scientific Method Worksheet

Scientific Method Lesson Plan: Worksheet

Scientific Studies:
Most are not very scientific! Have students look at the authors and other aspects of the study (Adidas commissioned their own study, Sketchers used a chiropractor with minimal participants and many dropped out, etc.). Preview the articles for readability. Some higher level groups will be able to use any journal, others may not.  You can address readability by having students focus only on the Authors, Abstract, Data, and Conclusions and providing definitions of key words as needed. Above all, have students focus on whether or not the studies, which marketers cited as proof of their claims, actually address their claims or something else!

A few “teacher notes” are given with each article. Feel free to have students focus on other aspects of the study and try to reserve these notes for yourself to assess whether or not students pick up on these key points.

Article 1: Shape Ups Study
Article cited on Shape Ups sales website when shoes were sold as scientific proof of advertiser claims. Students should note minimal number of participants, number of dropouts, clinal case study (not published or peer reviewed).

Scientific Method Lesson Plan: Article 1

Scientific Method Lesson Plan: Article 1

Article 2: MBT Study at Swiss Health and Performance Lab
Study completed at a performance lab. Note in acknowledgements that this study was paid for by MBT shoes.

Scientific Method Lesson Plan Article 2

Scientific Method Lesson Plan: Article 2

Article 3: Study on effects of shoes on running and muscle activation
Note study was paid for by Adidas.

Scientific Method Lesson Plan Article 3

Scientific Method Lesson Plan: Article 3

Article 4: Three MBT Articles/Studies 
Are these studies peer reviewed? Are these studies published?   **Good article set for lower students (last two articles are very short).  

Scientific Method Lesson Plan: Articles 4-6

Scientific Method Lesson Plan: Articles on MBT Shoes

Article 5: American Council on Exercise (ACE) Study
Note paid for by the American Council on Exercise.  **Good article to use to explain to students what data could be used to test the effects of a shoe on your health.

Scientific Method Lesson Plan ACE Study

Scientific Method Lesson Plan: ACE Study

General notes on weight loss:
The final study listed here was done by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). If they sound familiar, that’s probably because they are the largest nonprofit fitness certification, education and training organization in the world. Or maybe it’s because I’m an ACE-Certified Fitness Professional 🙂

If all this fitness stuff is new to you, check out that study and head over to ACE for some extra help. Some basics I’d like you to know are related to weight loss.  Average healthy weight loss is 0.5-2 lbs a week.  This is important because some of the studies note weight loss results.  Additionally, as you already know, weight loss is a combination of diet and exercise. Are both monitored in the studies the students are looking at? This is another question to consider.

More current ideas to use for this lesson plan:
I used this lesson back in 2010 when tone up shoes were all the rage, however, some of your students might not know about them. If you think they do, by all means use the lesson as is. However, I find that it’s always good to make things as relatable to students as possible. Here are a few ideas:

1.) Sketchers went through a lawsuit over the toning shoes. You can ask students to research the update on this product and report back.

2.) Green Coffee Bean extract has been in the news a lot as of late. I often see fake websites set up about it. I’m not sure if they contain viruses so I’ve made a screen shot of one I recently came across:

Green coffee bean diet

A screen shot showing one scam site

I’ve also saved the homepage of the website shown above as a pdf that you can view HERE>> The link to the original site is shown in the pdf if you would like to see it for yourself. When you visit, you’ll also notice that while it appears to be a news website, all of the links take you to sales pages for coffee beans!

The green coffee bean extract scam has also been linked to popular TV host, Dr. Oz. Students may have heard of this and it could be used as another example of the importance of the scientific method.  Here is a good video to show if you chose to talk about this topic:

As a fitness professional I get a TON of inquiries each week about great products backed by physicians that people want me to sell to my clients. It’s scary to me that this goes on and I hope this lesson plan idea will help you to prevent your students from falling prey to these gimmicks! While some will just be a waste of their time and money, others could cause real harm.

Final notes:

I hope this lesson plan can help you as you enter a new school week or prepare to go back to school this week! If you haven’t been by my page in a while, you may want to check out my Classroom Rules Lesson Plan (fun class rules cartoons included!) or SMART Goals Lesson Plan (good activity for almost any age that teaches life skills). Both are great for the start of the year.

Looking for help fitting fitness into your lesson plans? The Teachers’ Tone Up is my 8 Week Online Group Fitness Program JUST for teachers and it starts Monday, September 8th! Learn more and enroll HERE>>

This Thursday, September 4th, I’m hosting a free online workshop where I’ll share my top 7 tips for fitting fitness into your lesson plans. Watch live for free gifts and a giveaway! Not free Thursday? You can catch the replay sent straight to your inbox if you sign up HERE>>

Thanks for all that you do as a teacher! I hope you have a wonderful  2014-2015 school year and to see you Thursday!

Did you enjoy this post or know someone who might find it helpful? Please share it! Have a question or comment or something useful for other teachers? Feel free to share that below, too:



Catherine Turley

Hello! I'm the founder of Fit Armadillo® and I'm so glad you're here. If you've been looking for a way to start your healthy lifestyle, but you don’t want to join a gym or spend thousands of dollars on supplements and fad products, you’ve come to the right place. On the blog we share fitness tips and healthy recipes to get you started. For more 1-on-1 help head here to get matched with an awesome certified fitness professional. Looking for motivation to start or stick to your routine? Check out my *bestselling* book HERE

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