Sylphie's Squizzes: The Pitch Drop Experiment

article by Zoë Disher , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning intention:

I am learning to use comprehension strategies and research skills to analyse information so that I can evaluate relative value, currency and accuracy of sources.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify reliable digital and print sources.
  • I can evaluate the value, currency and accuracy of information based on various reliable sources.
  • I can include my sources when presenting information.


Essential knowledge:

  • More information about authoritative voice can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Authority.


Read The Pitch Drop Experiment as a class, then ask students the following questions:

Do you believe this information?

Why or why not?


Students might notice:

  • The text format is an article, suggesting it is non-fiction.
  • The text references scientists, dates and a university.
  • The author has written several articles for The School Magazine in the past.
  • The School Magazine’s articles are considered a reliable source of information.


Pose the questions:

What if this entire article was made up, or just a false rumour?

How can we check if it’s true?


Students should recognise that looking it up on the internet is a good start for checking the reliability of information. Ask students to give step-by-step instructions for you to look up the pitch drop experiment (e.g. Open a search engine such as Google, type in Pitch Drop Experiment, scroll through hits). Display your search findings on an Interactive Whiteboard. Ask students which websites are most likely reliable sources of information. Students might perceive University of Queensland, The Guardian and Nation Museums Scotland as examples of reliable sources. Explain that it’s best to follow the source hyperlinks at the bottom of the page for more reliable websites. Also explain that information on media sites are not always reliable, and it is best to compare with other websites.


Go to a blog post or other less reliable source such as Julian Trubin’s page on Thomas Parnell. Ask students if they can be sure this website is reliable. Explain that that it is simply a blog post that can be uploaded by anyone, with any information they like. Ask how students might be able to verify the information on Julian Trubin’s website.  Students might suggest clicking on the HOME tab to find out more about the author. From there, they could do a web search on the author’s name to find out if they are an established and legitimate source. However, in Julian Trubin’s case, there is no further information about the person behind the blog posts, therefore, this website isn’t reliable.


Explain to students that ways to find the most reliable sources of information on the internet include:

  • checking the URL (if it includes .edu or .gov it’s usually reliable but beware of scam sites)
  • checking if the webpage includes hyperlinks to sources, or lists authoritative authors or studies
  • using websites such as government education pages, library webpages, ABC/BBC pages, national and international museums, National Geographic, scholarly pages
  • checking the date the website was published to ensure information is still current and valid


Explain that checking several reliable sources is the best way to evaluate information.


Ask students how they could include reliable sources in the article The Pitch Drop Experiment. Give the example of changing the article’s sentence: In 1927 he began an experiment at the University of Queensland to According to the University of Queensland’s website, he created the experiment in 1927.


In pairs, students find ways to include or directly quote (using the quotation marks) other reliable sources of information in the text. They can either mark up copies of the article or rewrite the text with their inclusions.


Assessment for/as learning:

To effectively evaluate the students learning today, direct them to the DoE digital learning selector webpage to participate in this EXIT Ticket strategy that has been developed through the use of a Google Form. Teachers will be able to download and modify to their requirements.


Extension: Students use a program such as Microsoft Word to type the article with their sources and include hyperlinks. Instructions on how to include hyperlinks can be found at Hyperlinks in Word for the Web.