TikTok science stories lesson

Years 7 and 8

Students learn about the diverse roles of science communicators and are challenged to create their own science communication text in a contemporary medium.

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    Lesson Plan

    TikTok science stories

    Years 7 and 8

Learning hook

As a class, watch this short video (2:30) where proud Wiradjuri woman and astrophysicist Kirsten Banks explains her role as a science communicator.

Kirsten Banks - Astrophysics, TikTok and Culture

Explain to students that Kirsten is an active communicator on a range of platforms. Students can find out more about Kirsten and explore her blogs, podcast and other media on her website.

Now show students one of Kirsten’s TikTok videos. Her content includes videos that align with Earth and space sciences and Physical sciences content at this level. A great starting place is this video about forces on a balloon. 

As class, discuss who the audience for Kirsten’s videos could be, and what features of the video support that idea. What features of the text show how Kirsten connects with her audience?

Students can also read about Kirsten’s approach to communicating ideas on TikTok here.

Learning input

Science communication is the practice of informing, educating, raising awareness of science-related topics and engaging the public’s interest and enthusiasm for science. Science communicators can transform scientific information into accessible, understandable forms so all members of the public can develop scientific understandings of the world. Science communicators often play an important role in informing individuals and shaping community decisions.

Students can learn more about scientific communication and view some inspiring examples in this article from Shorthand.

Learning construction

Part A - explore ideas about the role of science communicators

  1. Watch the video ‘Are vaccines safe?’ 
  2. Consider how the purpose and audience for this video differ from the purpose and audience of Kirsten’s TikTok videos. Develop the idea that science communication needs a clear purpose and audience to be effective.
  3. As a class, identify a range of purposes and examples of science communication. A shared class concept map might be one way to collate ideas.
  4. As a way of broadening the activity, challenge students to find their own example of science communication to share with the class.

Part B – challenge students create their own TikTok-style science communication videos

Note that students should not be encouraged to use the TikTok app but should create and house their video safely using school-approved apps and digital tools.

TikTok videos can be up to 3 minutes long, but your students could be encouraged to complete a 60 second video, like those on Kirsten’s channel.

  1. Students can select a science topic that relates to a current area of study, interest or a personal passion.
  2. Before they begin creating their video, students should plan their content and how they are going to ensure effective and engaging communication. Students can use the template (see below).
  3. Students should be encouraged to share their videos and seek feedback from others as part of their review process.