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The Stink Test: Validating Resources

Louise Huffman, Ice Drilling Program Office Climate Expeditions

This learning activity provides a systematic and objective framework to enable students to develop skills to recognize whether a source of information is scientifically valid or not.

Even though this resource does not explicitly address CLEPs or ELEPs, it does fill the need for educational resources that teach students how to accurately assess if a source is scientifically valid or not. It also addresses NGSS Science and Engineering Practice standards ("engaging in an argument from evidence"; and "obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information").

This learning activity takes one 45 min class period.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • The STINK rubric is student-friendly and can be used for assessing any source, not just scientific. The extension suggestions are useful and practical.

About the Content

  • This activity allows students to follow a developed framework to test whether sources of information are reliable. It does not specifically teach about climate or scientific topics, but can be used with climate or science related topics and sources of information.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - The resource demonstrates how to recognize an author’s bias, prejudice and purpose, including examples such as: use of inflammatory language, an author that consistently makes claims not supported by the evidence, an author who consciously ignores information that might suggest a different conclusion, an author who manufactures or dishonestly cites evidence to shed a more positive light
    - Provides a quantitative way to judge a source for its credibility ( 0-59 = Stinky! Don’t trust it! 60-79 = A bit smelly. Check other sources. 80-89% = Sweet! 90-100% = Smells like a rose— very trustworthy!)
    - There are no scientific articles connected to this resource for students to review, the articles are selected based on the educator's preference. Might be helpful to provide one example of a stinky article and one example of a trustworthy article.

About the Pedagogy

  • This activity equips students with a framework from which they can determine how reliable sources of scientific information are. This is applicable outside of this particular activity and will help students as they encounter information on the internet.
  • The STINK Test is a simple and effective mnemonic device that steps students through a straightforward method in assessing the quality of sources: S= source of information, T= timely, I= important information, N= no bias, K= knowledge accuracy

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • All resources are provided. This activity is straight-forward to implement in the classroom.
Entered the Collection: August 2018 Last Reviewed: July 2018

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