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Educational toolkit and toolbox:

Media and information literacy workshop – Finding out whether ice melting rises sea levels


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The sole responsibility for the content of this document lies

with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.

Introduction – Nourishing Media and Information Literacy during STEM activities

Teachers should be aware of the increasing unreliability of social and mass media and will try and prepare their students for the dangers of the informational “jungle” they might be already facing. Providing their students with the real experience of being subject of deliberate misleading – in this case through a science experiment which was posted on social media, will convince them of the seriousness of the matter. Further, giving them the opportunity to freely explore different types of fallacies and misinformation tricks will hopefully provide them with a psychological shield of caution and information literacy. Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is defined as a “combination of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices required to access, analyze, evaluate, use, produce, and communicate information and knowledge in creative, legal and ethical ways that respect human rights” (from DOTs-PPT citation). The main skill in the MIL domain on which this workshop focuses is the ability to critically evaluate information and media content. However, this skill is strongly connected to intrapersonal skills like flexibility and adaptability and the ability to learn independently, but mostly critical and innovative thinking skills like resourcefulness, reflective thinking and reasoned-decision making.

Brief Description of the workshop:
(Workshop duration 130 minutes)

During the workshop the participants get firstly deliberately distracted with a science problem, which – to get them even further involved – they get to experiment with. They are asked to predict whether ice cubes melting in a cup of water will rise, sink or not change its water level, and using their experience of the hands-on experiment, decide on a much bigger problem – the polar caps of the Earth melting and the potential rising sea levels. Eventually, they get to do some research, only to discover that the ways the hands-on experiment is set is misleading and deliberately diverting attention from central facts of the issue, like the ice of glaciers not being in the water to begin with.

After becoming a “victim” of a fallacy, that was wide spread in the social media, they get to explore some other types of fallacies and do a second research, trying to identify them. During the research the participants will have to employ skills like mentioned above. They will have to analyze the processes behind the consumption of information and make them more explicit for themselves.

Use of media and information literacy in the context of scientific information literacy:

Even though misinformation is wide spread in many different areas, as science promises objectivity and truth per definition, it is often misused to mislead and misinform or it is simply misunderstood on mass media, especially as it is becoming more open-sourced and available. To critically evaluate scientific facts online can prove hard work.

This is why in this workshop participants are encouraged to question even science on social media. Developing and applying their own thinking skills, like critical, reflective and analytical thinking as well as the ability to not jump to conclusions, will be an important stepping stone in evaluating otherwise difficult scientific information.

Accompanying files:

  • FLICC_CARDS_ Media_and_Information_literacy_workshop
  • PRESENTATION_ Media_and_Information_literacy_workshop
  • CRANKY_UNCLE_TEACHRES_GUIDE_ Media_and_Information_literacy_workshop
  • PRESENTATION_FLICC_ Media_and_Information_literacy_workshop

Preparation before the workshop:

It is free for schools and education facilitators.

  • Print the FLICC_CARDS_Media_and_Information_literacy_workshop document in two copies and cut one of them in separate cards. You might laminate the cards in case you’d like to use them several times. Use the second copy as a key to the activity in Part 2.3.

Materials and infrastructure needed:

  • Computer with internet connection and projector

Per group:

  • x1 Computer/smartphone with internet connection
  • Water supply / Water
  • Measuring cups
  • Ice cubes
  • Tissues


If you cannot use a freezer or find ice cubes in a supermarket nearby, you can use this video instead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOCqHRpQh88

You can also use any other similar video, showing water levels NOT rising, when ice melts in a cup of water. This one provides some, as the author of the video states, “mathematical” explanation of the processes observed. You can encourage the participants to use that, and add extra science-points for students paying attention – is the explanation correct/sufficient? However, remember this is not the focus of this workshop.

Activity description

INTRODUCTION: Welcome and introduction to the workshop 5min

Welcome the participants and tell them that in this workshop we are going to discuss and have a hands-on activity related to transversal skills. Take some time to present the domains and the basic transversal skills related each domain, focusing on the domain of media and information literacy. Explain that the present workshop is about developing critical media and information thinking skills, which are connected to the skills in the other domains. Inform them that the workshop is focusing on the fallacies used in misinformation in the (social) media.

The classroom-activity which is presented in the workshop is divided in two parts. In the first one the focus lies on one particular problem connected to climate change, whilst in the second covers different methods of misinformation or fallacies and how to recognize them, again using different examples of the climate change problematic. Let the participants keep in mind, that the topic of climate change – as important and engaging as it might be – is not the main topic of the workshop, and that gaining media and information skills can eventually be useful in addressing many other global problems.

CLASSROOM ACTIVITY PART 1: Hands-on and minds-on activity

Part 1.1: Ice cubes rising water – hands-on activity 10min

Divide the participants in small groups of 3-4 people and give each group a measuring cup with water, filled almost to the top and some ice cubes.

Then present them with the challenge: Each group should try and add as many ice cubes in the measuring cup, so the water just doesn’t overflow. By doing this they should discuss and decide among themselves whether – after the ice has melted – the water level will a) rise; b) sink; c) stay the same.

Tell them the measuring cups are not to be moved until the end of the session, when the (new) water levels will be measured. Give them 10 minutes to discuss how many ice cubes and why do they want to put into their measuring cup.


Using a video of ice cubes melting in a cup of water can also be used to kick-off the discussion. However, putting up a simple challenge to actually do during the workshop will contribute much to the motivational levels of the participants for otherwise a rather difficult and serious topic.

Part 1.2: Presentation and discussion of the hands-on activity 10min

Ask each group to present their solution and argumentation. After that let the participants assess the water levels in their measuring cups and ask them the following question:

According to their own observations, do you believe polar ice and glaciers melting can rise the sea levels around the world, causing catastrophic events?

During the presentations of the groups and the following discussion, keep the guidelines below in mind:

  • When the participants present their ideas, try and remain neutral, welcoming each good argument and reasonable thinking, even if it might lead to a wrong conclusion. Make sure, you keep all possibilities open until the next step of the workshop when they discover how this experiment is used to misinform.
  • Keep in mind that all ideas are valuable and encourage the participants to back up their ideas – right or wrong, it doesn’t matter – with good arguments.
  • If you spot a logical mistake, ask a question to help the group discover it, but don’t point it out directly, as it might rather discourage the participants.
  • Make sure different participants from the different groups remain active during the task.
  • Be aware of your own reactions and comments, as you might use them as examples, when discussing the activity on the meta-level.


You can find the explanation of the physics behind the ice cubes melting in a cup of water here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=550ovNHCxAg

However, remember this is not the focus of this workshop. Even if questions arise, don’t provide all the explanations straight away, just as much too keep the participants interested. You can always give extra points or encourage participants to go on and find out on their own about the physics behind the experiment.

Part 1.3: Introducing Red Herring and Misinformation 10min

Wrapping up the discussion give the participants 10min to search online for information on the last question. Let them check, if they can find anything on the ice cubes melting in a cup of water, proving that sea levels aren’t rising. At the end discuss, why did this matter become so viral in 2019.

In case they struggle, distribute the following three articles around the whole group and give the participants some reading-time:




After they are finished let them reassess their arguments about the ice cubes melting in the measuring cups and whether the experiment proves anything about sea levels rising. Let each group come up with a statement.

Red Herring:

Deliberately diverting attention to an irrelevant point to distract from a more important point https://crankyuncle.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Cranky_Teachers_Guide_v1.pdf, p. 17.

At the end introduce them to a fallacy called Red Herring. You can also ask them, how they feel after this tricky exercise?


When done in a classroom setting part 1.3 could also be given as a home exercise until next class.

PAUSE 10min

Make sure it is a relaxing one!

CLASSROOM ACTIVITY PART 2: Information Fallacies and Misinformation

Part 2.1: All the Fallacies of Cranky Uncle – introduction

Give a short introduction on the different types of fallacies or FLICC (Fake experts, Logical fallacies, Impossible expectations, Cherry picking, and Conspiracy theories) as developed by skepticalscience: PRESENTATION_FLICC_ Media_and_Information_literacy_workshop

Part 2.2: All the Fallacies of Cranky Uncle – online activity 15min

Give your participants 15min to discover the online game Cranky Uncle for themselves. Make sure they go through all the five main fallacy types or FLICC. The game gives some information on each major denial technique and a couple of questions. After those are solved, you can choose to go on with a quiz or to learn another denial technique. For the workshop go only

through the first questions and encourage the participants to do the quiz on their own.

Part 2.3: FLICC – card game 20min

In the FLICC_CARDS_Media_and_Information_literacy_workshop here is 36 sets of a fact, myth and a fallacy all connected to climate change, however covering different issues. Distribute the different sets on the tables, and mix the cards. Give the participants 10min to correctly match the sets on their table. Each group should then choose one myth and look it up online:

How is this myth represented online?

To wrap up, ask your participants to draw parallels between the articles they just found on their chosen myth and the articles you gave them to read earlier on the ice cubes melting and the sea levels rising.

What conclusions could they reach about information and misinformation?

Part 2.3: Alternative – fallacy search

After getting to know the different types of fallacies, allow you participants time to go on a search themselves. They can use the three websites suggested earlier and undergo a general search on different topics.

Which fallacies can they identify?

Could they find the media which posted the false information?

How was the false information represented online?

What conclusions could they reach about information and misinformation?


Whilst the second alternative for this part of the workshop is more demanding it is also more connected to real media and misinformation. Which alternative you us, depends on the group your are working with and their motivational levels.

PAUSE 10min

Make sure it is a relaxing one!

Linking transversal skills to the activity

Ask the participants to reflect on the different steps of the classroom-activity and think about which skills they applied. Give them 5 minutes to think and share their thoughts. Here are some questions for the different parts of the activity, with suggested answers:

  • What skills did you use to decide whether the water will overflow when the ice cubes melt? (Resourcefulness)
  • What skills did you use to compare your experience with the issue of sea levels rising? (Application skills, Reflective thinking)
  • What skills did you use to search online for information on sea levels rising because of ice melting and how it is represented by the hands-on activity discussed in 1.2? (Reasoned-decision making, Flexibility & adaptivity, Ability to learn independently)
  • What skills did you use to categorize fallacies in the Cranky Uncle online activity and the FLICC card game? (Ability to learn independently, Reflective thinking)
  • What skills did you use to draw parallels between the FLICC types of fallacies and the myths you researched on your own? (Reflective thinking, reasoned decision making, ability to learn independently, Ability to critically evaluate information and media content)

Examples of transversal skills used in the Media and Information Literacy activity:

Go back to the DOTS mind map of Transversal skills and focus on the list of different basic skills. Compare these skills to the list provided by the participants. Media and information literacy helps develop basic skills form different skill domains. If some skills don’t get mentioned invite the participants to think which of these skills they deployed during the exercise and how. Give some examples.

Resourcefulness – imagining multiple possibilities as an outcome of the ice cubes melting in a cup of water

Application skills – applying the ideas from the hands-on experiment in the real-life problem of sea levels rising…

Reflective thinking – …but also analyzing the differences between what has happened in the hands-on activity and complexities of real-life situation and making judgements on the conclusions to be taken (or not) because of those differences – the water rising in the cup doesn’t lead to the conclusion that the sea levels aren’t rising when glaciers melt and add to sea water.

Reasonable-decision making – after observing that water level doesn’t rise after the ice melts and being “convinced” the sea levels should remain the same, being prepared to change one’s decision in the face of data and reasonable argumentation.

Flexibility & Adaptivity – without jumping to conclusions too quickly the participants pursuit the truth of the matter of sea levels rising and adapt when surprisingly discover they’ve been tricked into a “Red Herring”

Ability to learn independently – motivating them through a personal experience and them giving the participants a chance to discover on their own and in their own time further fallacies, e.g. through the Cranky Uncle online game or through researching into websites and articles like the Politifact.com.

Ability to critically evaluate information and media content – not only researching, but also being aware of the dangers of fallacies and even recognizing misleading or false information on (social) media.

Keep in mind that skills are fluent and interconnected. Similar to the fallacies discussed in the classroom-activity, this reflection round on the transversal is not so much about their correct classification, but about their identification and recognition. As usual – there are multiple “correct” answers, as long as everybody applies their own critical thinking and understanding of the matter.

Make a connection to a real classroom 20min

Thinking about a classroom setting inform your participants that PART 1 of the classroom activity is about making the exercise personal and giving the experience of being the “victim” of a red herring. As students might be already victims of misinformation in real life it is important to raise their awareness to the problematic and motivate them to engage with it. As opposed to more theoretical school activities, it aims at promoting a more intrinsic motivation to engage with the topic of media and information literacy. In a classroom some might even like to share experiences they’ve already had with fake news or misinformation. Ask your participants how they can encourage their students to talk on such topics among each other and in school.

PART 2 of the classroom activity aims to give some overview by categorization of different denial techniques (fallacies) which might lead to misinformation and fake news. This classification, however, isn’t “set in stone”. Many (real-life) examples might prove difficult to be clearly assigned to a category and open discussions, leading away from the main focus. At the end, it is not so important to get a category right but to develop skills to recognize false information.

Talk with the participants about student already being online and on social media, meaning a lot of the content of discussions might be personal and bring up emotions into the classroom discussion. How can it still be kept rational and useful for the students, avoiding conflicts?

Some notes on classroom discussions

In the classroom activity part 1.2 the following guidelines for classroom-discussions were given. Take some 10min to talk about those and especially about the role of the teacher during such discussions. Check what your participant think on each point. Which concerns or ideas they might have as experienced professionals?

  • When the students present their ideas, try and remain neutral, welcoming each good argument and reasonable thinking, even if it might lead to a wrong conclusion. Make sure, you keep all possibilities open encouraging the students to find the right answers for themselves.
  • Keep in mind that all ideas are valuable and encourage the students to back up their ideas – right or wrong, it doesn’t matter – with good arguments.
  • If you spot a logical mistake, ask a helping question to help the group discover it, but don’t point it out directly, as it might rather discourage the students.
  • Make sure different participants from the different groups remain active.

Wrapping up the workshop 5min

Wrapping up the workshop, mentioning again how important is to give real-life experiences through hands-on activities even when introducing media and information literacy, as experience is a stepping stone in the learning process.

Stress on the importance of media and information literacy and the known fallacies and the research skills their students can develop when given the chance to learn more and ask questions and do some research themselves.

To finish, thank the participants and invite them to give feedback on the workshop.









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