Person on the Street (POS) Interview for grades 6-12

Angelica Allende Brisk, Cambridge Media Arts Studio (original author); Ana Caldeira, Somerville, MA High School, Tobe Stromberg, Cambridge (MA) Rindge and Latin High School, Marian Grogan, TERC (editors)
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In this media project, students create a video that documents unrehearsed interviews with multiple persons-on-the-street about a specific question or issue in climate science. To produce a compelling product, students will need to both understand the underlying science themselves, and be able to conduct and document a series of interviews to elicit interviewees' understanding of the science as well.

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Learning Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The POS project is well suited to uncovering gaps in knowledge and misconceptions commonly held by the general public about foundational concepts in climate change science. As such, the project can lead to "teachable moments" for students in clarifying and correcting their own misconceptions. Here are some examples:

  • What do you think is responsible for the overall warming of the planet?
  • Why is burning fossil fuels like coal and oil more of a concern to scientists than burning wood and biofuels?
  • How does carbon dioxide heat the Earth?
  • How can carbon dioxide be removed from the atmosphere?

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Preparing for POS interviews requires students to think carefully about what it is they want to learn about what the general public understands about climate science, and then -- through research and discussion -- prepare themselves to become knowledgeable about the subject themselves.

Other skills goals for this activity

Other skills include:

  • creating a non-threatening interview environment, and quickly engaging interviewees in responding to one or more questions
  • developing well-formulated initial and follow-up questions that may need on-the-spot tinkering as the interview proceeds
  • creating a storyboard and/or shot list
  • video and sound recording and editing

Context for Use


The POS project is suitable for use with both middle and high school students. Examples of content areas into which this project could be incorporated include:

  • Environmental science
  • Weather and climate
  • Media studies about controversial science topics

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

The activity will be more meaningful for students if they have had some background in climate science and exposure to how common misconceptions arise and can be ameliorated.

How the activity is situated in the course

Because the activity enable students to identify and "correct" (if even only to their classmates) misconceptions about climate science, it could be a good culminating activity for a unit on climate change.

Description and Teaching Materials

The POS project follows a sequence of activities that are described in the CAM Person On the Street Project Handout linked below. Media resources (documents, PowerPoint presentations and videos) that are recommended for this project are also linked below and referred to at the appropriate points of use in the project handout. Additional media resources and good websites for researching climate science topics are included in the Resources section at the end of this project page.

CAM POS Project Handout for Grades 6-12 (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 641kB Jan9 14)


News is What We Make It (Quicktime Video 19.7MB Dec3 13)

CAM Tips for Effective Interviewing (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 591kB Dec3 13)

CAM Storyboard Template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 558kB Dec3 13)

CAM Shot List (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 552kB Dec3 13)

CAM Before You Tape (PowerPoint 24.7MB Dec3 13)

CAM Field Production Cheat Sheet (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 1.1MB Dec3 13)

CAM Peer Review Form for Video Projects (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 111kB Dec3 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Adding a brief section at the end of the video, in which students introduce themselves and clarify the scientific explanation of the issue or concept around which this project was built, can take the lesson further and be shared with a larger audience.

It is important to check in with students as they develop this project and ensure that the interview questions they construct and their understanding of the science being questioned is clear and rigorous. Fostering a positive environment for collaboration is also important - i.e. encourage students to:
  • critique each others' work respectfully and with a collective goal of having all projects in the class be strong;
  • explicitly acknowledge excellent work by their classmates;
  • consider how they will take their work beyond the classroom.


There are several points in the development and completion of this project that offer opportunities for assessment. For example:
1. Interview questions can be assessed for clarity and creativity.
2. Interview setting can be assessed for the level at which interviewees appear to be comfortable as they are being interviewed.
3. Visual and audio aspects of the video as well as editing of the final cut can be assessed for quality.
4. Peer review of team members can be helpful for students to review each others' roles and contribution to the team effort (a Peer Review for Video Projects is included in the Teaching Materials above)
5. Group screenings with constructive feedback provided by the audience (classmates, other students, families) offer students an opportunity to refine their climate science knowledge and public speaking skills.

References and Resources

CAM Climate Science Resources -good websites for climate science information and images

CAM Media Production Resources - print and online tools for creating media projects