Media Guide- November 25, 2016

Media Guide- November 25, 2016

Grade Level



15 min - 1 hr


Media Guide

Each week we provide a rundown of the latest Science Friday stories, ready for classroom use. Last week Science Friday explored a genetic study done in collaboration with the Tsimshian community and celebrated research that make us “laugh and then think” with the 2016 Ig Nobel Awards.

We are still beta-testing this resource and would love your feedback.

In Indigenous Genes, Evidence of Colonization’s Plagues

In the years after Europeans arrived in the Americas, indigenous communities were ravaged by diseases that colonists brought with them, from influenza to smallpox. New genetic research published in Nature Communications now describes one way that the course of history may have changed the genetics of Coast Tsimshian communities in northwestern British Columbia.

A genetic comparison of ancient Tsimshian remains and modern Tsimshian community members found shifts in a part of the genome responsible for regulating immune function. Some variants found in the ancient remains were rare in the living, suggesting they were less helpful for surviving the European pathogens.

The segment also explores the unique collaboration between the research team and the Tsimshian communities, and why they think building relationships with indigenous communities makes for better research into genetics, and beyond.

Vocabulary: indigenous, genetic anthropology, variation, partnership, oral histories

NGSS: LS3.B: Variation of Traits, LS3-3: Science is a Human Endeavor

Audio Excerpt “In Indigenous Genes, Evidence of Colonization’s Plagues” 11/25/2016. (Original Segment)

Segment Transcript


  • How were scientists able to determine that a new disease hit the ancient population of Tsimshian?
  • There is a partnership between the researchers from the University of Illinois and the Tsimshian community. Why do you think partnerships like this are rare? Do you think these community partnerships are important? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think it is important for the Tsimshian community to back up their oral histories with data from archeology and genetics?

Activity Suggestions

Related Segment

DNA as a Key to Plant Conservation

Biology Prize co-winner Thomas Thwaits is escorted by minordomo Eliza Kosoy. The Human Clocks are at left. Credit: Howard I Cannon
Biology Prize co-winner Thomas Thwaits is escorted by minordomo Eliza Kosoy. The Human Clocks are at left. Credit: Howard I Cannon

Celebrating Science With Silliness: The 2016 Ig Nobel Prizes

Earlier this fall, a group of science enthusiasts packed a theater at Harvard University for an evening of scientific silliness. The 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony salutes work that, in the words of Marc Abrahams, editor of the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, “first makes you laugh, then makes you think.”

This year’s award winners included researchers who studied the perceived personalities of rocks (from a sales and marketing perspective), a man who built himself prosthetic limbs so he could live with goats, and a scientist who found that, yes, the world really does look different if you bend over and view things from between your legs. The night also included two bouts of paper airplane throwing, scientific lectures conducted in just 24 seconds, and a mini-opera about the dastardly addition of a sneaky leap second to the world’s timepieces.

Vocabulary: Ig Nobel, scientific innovation, process, time, leap second

NGSS: Science and Engineering Practice: Obtain, evaluating, and communicating information.

Audio Excerpt “Celebrating Science With Silliness: The 2016 Ig Nobel Prizes” 11/25/2016. (Original Segment)

Ig Nobel Playlist Transcript


  • For each study, think and answer the following questions:
    • Why might someone think that this study is silly?
    • Pause and think for a bit. What can we learn from this study? What further research could be conducted based on this study?

Activity Suggestions

We are still developing this resource and would love your feedback.

Related Segment

Somewhat Silly Science Earns Ig Nobel Prizes

Educator's Toolbox

Meet the Writer

About Xochitl Garcia

Xochitl Garcia is Science Friday’s education program assistant. She is a former teacher who loves hanging out with her fat-tailed gecko, which, despite the efforts of students, family, friends, and a fantasy football league to name it, is still only referred to as “the gecko.”

Explore More