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Kidnapped by UFOs?

Classroom Activity

To recall what occurs when two people briefly disrupt class with an unanticipated interruption.

Materials for each team
  • copy of "Do You Remember?" student handout (PDF or HTML)
  1. It can be difficult to convince people they did not have an experience once a memory is implanted in their minds. To show students how this might occur, use this activity.

  2. Before class, arrange for two people (a faculty member and a student) from outside the class to stage a brief and confusing interruption at the beginning of your class.

    You may use the following situation: The adult chases the student into the room. The student is carrying a baseball bat or a tennis racket. The adult has a sock partially showing from a pocket. Neither person is carrying a ball. Both people shout at each other about something related to a baseball or tennis game and then leave.

  3. Once they have left, ask students six to eight questions about the disturbance, including a few leading questions about someone carrying a ball or having a hat in a pocket.

  4. After you ask the questions, resume class. At the end of class or the next day, tell students you now want them to write a story about the disturbance.

  5. Divide the class into groups and distribute the student handout to help students recall facts.

  6. Have each group present its story and answer questions from the class to determine which details are accurate. How do students' accounts differ? How easy or hard was it for them to embellish inadvertently or to add details that were not true and why?

Activity Answer

Most students will be able to list the major details of the disturbance, such as who entered the room first and the main idea of each person's statements. Listing minor details, such as specific clothing worn or words used, may be more difficult to remember accurately. The questions in the chart that assume a hat and a ball were part of the scene might influence some students to describe details that were not present. Most students will probably find that their memories of time, in terms of the exact time of the event and the length of the incident, may also be difficult to remember. Researchers have also found that once an idea is planted into someone's memory, a person will embellish upon the contrived fact when recalling the event at a later time.

Teacher's Guide
Kidnapped by UFOs?

Video is not required for this activity