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Procedure and Timing

Lesson Description

Materials Description and Timing

Materials for the lesson include both print and video advertisements that use science to promote products.  Images can be found on the internet, on products themselves, or in magazines.  The images below were found using Google Image Search.  The commercials on youtube were found by searching for specific products that were known to make scientific claims.  The ads presented here are by no means a complete representation of what is available.  Though not part of this lesson, students will even offer their own examples when asked in class and a quick search on youtube or Google can allow all students to view the examples.  Teachers will need to print out color copies of the advertisements prior to the lesson.  Laminating the ads is preferable to save them for future use and for several class periods of use.

For the videos teachers need a projector or large TV/computer screen with the ability to play the commercials.  There are several programs (AVC for example) that can change youtube videos from flash to other formats.  This is needed if internet access to youtube is unavailable or unwanted.  The best option is a projector connected to a computer with internet and youtube access.  If students mention other commercials the teacher can then show those as well after previewing them.  A document camera is a great technology for showing ads to an entire class.


The lesson takes three 45 minutes periods.

Day 1
5 minutes - Beginning of class procedures (attendence, warm-up, etc)
5 minutes - Class introduction to print advertisements
15 minutes - Class together analyzes advertisement
10 minutes - Groups work to analyze advertisement
10 minutes - Groups present findings

Day 2
5 minutes - Beginning of class procedures (attendence, warm-up, etc)
5 minutes - Class introduction to video advertisements
15 minutes - Class together analyzes commercial
10 minutes - Groups work to analyze commercial
10 minutes - Groups present findings

Day 3
5 minutes - Beginning of class procedures (attendence, warm-up, etc)
5 minutes - Teacher introduces project
20 minutes -
Groups work together to make fictional print advertisement
15 minutes - students present advertisements


Cheerios Package (image file)
Cheerios Packaging

Kid Essentials Package (image file)
Kid Essentials Packaging

Dan Active (image file)
Dan Active Ad

Mass FX (image file)
Mass FX print ad

POM Health's Angel Print Ad (image file)
POM Health's Angel

Xenadrine (image file)
Xenadrine Ad

TV Commercials on YouTube
(as of 11/2010)
Eve POM Wonderful

Gatorade Has Evolved

5 Hour Energy

Jamie Lee Curtis and Activia Yogurt

Lesson Description

The lesson is divided into three main parts: print advertisements, video advertisements, and production.  The lesson begins with a discussion of print advertisements.  The teacher should bring in or have students bring in magazines, newspapers, and other forms of print advertisement.  Students are then asked to identify advertisements that use key science words.

Key Science Words:  probiotics, study, studies, research, antioxident, natural, bacteria, energy, metabolism, immunity, clinical, increase, decrease, cholesterol

If time is allowed students can do this in groups (possibly in a previous class period), but for a 45 minute class the teacher can lead the discussion.  The teacher shows an advertisement and says, "Advertisers use specific techniques to get people to buy products and influence choice.  What are some techniques you know of?"  The teacher leads students into taking about the use of science in advertising and then tells students they will be analyzing advertisements over the next few days for their use of science.  The teacher then leads the discussion below with an ad.

Teacher:  What is this advertisement selling?
Student Response
Teacher:  Which key science words are present on this advertisement?
Student Response
Teacher:  What is happening?
Student Response
Teacher:  What objects can you identify?
Student Response
What are the people in the image doing?
Student Response
What do the facial expressions or body language suggest?
Student Response
What characteristics of buildings or environment give you clues to the location?
Student Response
What are the people wearing?
Student Response
What is the relationship between the people in the advertisement?
Student Response
What interests you the most about the advertisement?
Student Response

The teacher should lead the discussion to keep students on track, but let students provide their own insights.  Use a chalkboard, whiteboard etc. to write down student responses.  Next, the teacher should divide the class into groups and give each group another ad to analyze using the Advertisement Dissection and Analysis worksheet.  Students then come together with 10 to 15 minutes remaining to present what they found about their advertisement.

For the next lesson (Day 2) the teacher has several options.
1)  The teacher can use computers already present in the room to have students work in groups
2)  The teacher can have students work in a computer lab in groups.
3)  or the teacher can have students all watch the same advertisement together in class.

The first and second choices are the best since they allow the groups to work with videos to pause, rewind, and otherwise control the video.  The teacher begins the lesson by telling students they will be doing a similar activity to what they did yesterday but with video.  Students are introduced to vocabulary by reviweing the TV Commercials Vocabulary Table found on this document.  The teacher starts the discussion by asking students if they can name commercials that use science to help sell them - but exclude legitimate drugs (prevent the shouts of "Viagra").  The teacher goes through a commercial with them using the same analysis worksheet.  Next the teacher has them break into groups to analyze a different commercial in groups.  After groups finish their analysies the groups get together to share their video and analysis with the class.  Depending on the number of student groups the time required to finish this lesson will vary.

Students next produce their own print advertisement (Day 3).  The teacher begins by showing students an example pretend advertisement.  Students are given the following choices to make a commercial about:
  • Sport/Energy Drink
  • Dietary Supplement (ginsing, St. Johns Wort etc)
  • Cereal
  • Granola and Energy/Protein Bar
  • Muscle Enlarger
  • Weight Reducer
  • Any other teacher approved product
Students use the following worksheet (adapted from here) to help guide their advertisement.  The worksheet is meant to be completed prior to work on making the actual advertisement.  Students can use magazines, drawings, and computer graphics to complete their advertisement.  Larger paper is better for classroom viewing unless a document camera is available to view and discuss the finished ads. 

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Procedure and Timing

NOTE: This lesson contains images created by outside sources and used as teaching tools. The images provided in this module are for educational use only. They may not be used for any commercial purpose.