Home MediaLit Moments Keep Your Comments Brief and Planet-Sized

Keep Your Comments Brief and Planet-Sized

E-mail Print PDF

Most science and media literacy activities are based on news stories, which are rich fields for questions about the agendas of scientific researchers, and the agendas of media producers.  But what about science as entertainment?  The recent re-boot of the classic science television series Cosmos uses many eye-catching media techniques to inform, to inspire wonder, and occasionally to persuade.  What would it be like to speak not just the language of science, but to speak the visual language of this series?  In this MediaLit Moment, your middle level students will learn how to conceptualize and use these techniques to inform, to persuade, and to provide audience opportunities for perspective taking.

Ask students to create a storyboard or produce a visual that uses perspective or scale to reinforce the purpose of their media message

AHA!: With a show like Cosmos, it's the use of scale and perspective that really grabs my attention!

Grade Level: 6-9

Key Question #2: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

Core Concept #2: Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

Key Question #2 for Producers: Does my message reflect understanding in format, creativity and technology?

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?

Core Concept #5: Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power

Key Question #5 for Producers: Have I communicated my purpose effectively? 

Materials: Computer with high speed internet access, LCD projector and screen. OR DVD player and television.

Activity: Engage students in a conversation about the new Cosmos series.  Have they seen it?  Did they like it?  If they did, what did they like about it? What really grabbed their attention?  Depending on your schedule (and depending on whether you teach science or some other subject), screen the entire Cosmos episode 12, "The Worlds Set Free," about global warming.  Single episodes are available to stream on Amazon and other platforms for about $2.  A DVD of the entire series would require an investment of about $50.   Alternatively, screen clips.  In any case, find sequences which illustrate the problems of or solutions to global warming; for example, the cliffs of Dover rising to illustrate the world's increasing carbon output, or a massive wind farm in the ocean illustrating wind power as an alternative energy source.

Screen these sequences at least a couple of times.  Ask students, what kinds of visual techniques were used?  How are they different from the kinds of visuals presented in other TV series? You may want to discuss KQ#2 with students.  You may need to introduce the concepts of scale and perspective.  Also ask, for what purpose were these techniques used?  Direct students' attention to KQ#5. 

Next, ask students to write a comment about global warming.  They can comment on problems, or solutions.  They may also write a comment intended to help audiences comprehend the planetary scale of the issue.  Students can use their comments as the basis for creating a storyboard - a visual sequence which reinforces their ideas.  Direct the attention of students to KQ#2 for Producers and KQ#5 for Producers. If media production tools are available in your school, so much the better.  If students are allowed to bring their own device to school, this may provide an avenue for production as well.  Make production feedback available in whatever format is desired--individual, online, group, whole-class, etc.

Extended Activity: You may wish to screen the sequence of deGrasse Tyson's commentary on the change of perspective brought by images of Earth sent back from Apollo lunar missions.


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, ©2002-2014, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 11:28 )  
Previous Issues:

 21st century skills
 a day in the life of a media literacy educator
 a year in review 2014
 a year in review december 2012
 advertising consumer debt and media literacy
 anytime anywhere learning
 artificial intelligence- a new mil application
 big data
 body image and media literacy
 bots terrorism and media literacy
 building a strong foundation
 cell phones as learning tools
 change management in schools
 children and media literacy part 2
 children and media literacy
 citizen journalism
 citizenship in the digital age part 2
 citizenship in the digital age
 cml media literacy trilogy
 comics and media literacy
 community media
 confirmation bias and media literacy
 copyright and media literacy
 covid 19 - shaking up education and family life
 criteria for media literacy instruction
 crowdfunding and media literacy
 data representation and media literacy
 digital britain
 documentary film and media literacy
 education and creative economy
 education creative economy australia
 empowerment theory practice activism
 esl and media literacy
 fair use for media literacy
 faith and media literacy
 frameworks for inquiry
 gender representation media
 global citizenship media literacy
 global education
 globalization
 heuristics nudge theory and the internet of things
 history of media literacy
 institutionalizing media literacy through legislation
 leadership elizabeth thoman
 len masterman and the big ideas of media literacy
 libraries museums and informal learning
 maps and media literacy
 media and body image
 media and information literacy
 media and information literacy part 2
 media deconstruction as essential learning skill
 media literacy computational thinking
 media literacy risk assessment
 media literacy and 21st century skills
 media literacy and arts education
 media literacy and common core
 media literacy and human rights
 media literacy and masculinity
 media literacy and media businesses in the post-soviet baltics  a strategic defense priority
 media literacy and media construction
 media literacy and nutrition
 media literacy and personal data management
 media literacy and pharmaceutical advertising
 media literacy and science
 media literacy and student empowerment
 media literacy and the environment
 media literacy and video games
 media literacy early childhood education
 media literacy for grown ups
 media literacy in the community
 media literacy june 2019
 media literacy march 2021
 media literacy may 2019
 media literacy november 2019
 media literacy pioneers
 media literacy policy and legislation
 media literacy q1 2020
 media morals and empowerment
 media representation lgbtq
 media violence and media relationships
 media violence
 mobilizing for media literacy
 monsters and media literacy
 new curriculum and media literacy
 online privacy and media literacy
 online safety
 parents and media literacy
 participation in what
 professional development for media literacy
 propaganda and media literacy
 public health and media literacy - march
 reality tv and media literacy
 redefining school communities
 research media literacy
 responding to racism and stereotypes in media
 self representation and media literacy
 sexism in media
 social networking
 sports and media literacy
 systems thinking and media literacy
 teaching healthy skepticism
 television and media literacy
 the mediated city and the public
 the role of journalism in society
 trust through technology
 us department of education
 voices of media literacy- guillermo orozco gomez
 what media literacy is and is not
 whats in a name
 where are we now institutionalizing media literacy
 whom do we trust the people
 youth participation in media literacy

CONNECTIONS