Above the Noise Videos


Above the Noise, a YouTube series for teens, cuts through the hype and dives deep into the research behind the issues affecting their daily lives. Every other week, the series investigates controversial subject matter to help young viewers draw informed conclusions, while inspiring media literacy and civic engagement. Lesson plans and other material provide support for bringing Above the Noise into the classroom.

  • Welcome to Above the Noise | Above the Noise

    Above the Noise is a new YouTube series that empowers teens with the facts behind real-world issues that affect their lives. Begin with a brief intro to what you can expect from this series: healthy skepticism about news coverage of controversial and trending topics that affect you. Two dynamic young hosts, journalists Myles Bess and Shirin Ghaffary, take a closer look at topics that are often sensationalized or distorted in the media, examining the latest research to inspire young viewers to draw informed conclusions, strengthen their media literacy skills and activate interest in civic engagement.

    Grades: 6-12
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    Why Are Schools Still So Segregated? | Above the Noise

    America’s school-age population is more racially diverse than it’s ever been before. Yet schools have become more and more segregated over the last 30 years. According to a study by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, the number of public schools across the country with an almost entirely minority student body has more than tripled over the last 25 years. Today, almost 1 in 5 public schools in the United States have just about no white students. Explore the factors that led to school desegregation and re-segregation in the latest Above the Noise video.

    Grades: 6-12
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    Are Internet Trolls Born or Made? | Above the Noise

    Trolls are all over the internet, just annoying people to no end. What makes someone an internet troll? Are some people just destined to be a troll, or do they develop this ability? Believe it or not, but there have been numerous scientific studies surrounding this behavior. Explore the science behind trolling behavior in the latest Above the Noise video.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Is Facial Recognition Invading Your Privacy? | Above the Noise

    Facial recognition is creeping more and more into our daily lives. Facebook and Google use it for autotagging photos. Snapchat uses it to create hilarious filters. And Apple’s new iPhone will allow you to use your face to unlock your phone. But this same technology can be used by governments and companies to learn as much as they can about you. Find out how facial recognition technology works in the newest Above the Noise video.

    Grades: 6-12
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    Is Your Fleece Jacket Polluting the Oceans? | Above the Noise

    By 2050, the World Economic Forum predicts that the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh ALL the fish. When you hear “plastic” pollution, you might picture six-pack rings wrapped around seagulls or beaches littered with plastic bottles. But now, researchers are discovering a new menace -- microfibers. They're tiny strands of synthetic fibers that come from the synthetic clothing that many of us love to wear -- think fleece jackets and yoga pants. Find out what we can do about microfiber pollution in this week's Above the Noise video.

    Grades: 6-12
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    2017 According to Above the Noise | Above the Noise

    2017 was a big year. Not just for America and the world, but also for Above the Noise -- a new YouTube series that empowers teens with the facts behind real-world issues that affect their lives. Join host Myles Bess by a cozy fireplace as he reflects back on this year.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Voices from the March for Science | Above the Noise

    The March For Science attracted participants from all over the world who voiced their support of evidence-based policy and the impact of scientific research on everyday life. Thousands of people of all ages participated in marches for science across the country on April 22. But some scientists feel that marches like these are a mistake and risk politicizing science. In this special report, host Shirin Ghaffary speaks with young participants at the San Francisco march.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Can Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Help Fight Disease? | Above the Noise

    In the last couple of years, the mosquito species Aedes aegypti has garnered perhaps the most attention, at least in parts of the U.S. where it resides. It’s the one that can transmit a generous selection of very nasty diseases including Zika, yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya. In an effort to control these mosquito populations and reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, some scientists at the British company OXITEC have turned to genetic engineering. Host Myles Bess dives into the science and policy surrounding the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to combat mosquito-borne diseases.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Why Do Our Brains Love Fake News? | Above the Noise

    Ever have an argument with someone, and no matter how many facts you provide, you just can’t get that person to see it your way? One big reason for this is cognitive bias, which is a limitation in our thinking that can cause flaws in our judgement. Confirmation bias is a specific type of cognitive bias that motivates us to seek out information we already believe and ignore or minimize facts that threaten what we believe. Studies show that when people are presented with facts that contradict what they believe, the parts of the brain that control reason and rationality go inactive. But, the parts of the brain that process emotion light up like the Fourth of July. In this video, host Myles Bess dives into the research and offers some tips to combat confirmation bias. This resource is part of the News and Media Literacy Collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Top 4 Tips To Spot Bad Science Reporting | Above the Noise

    In an era of sensationalized news and “alternative facts” it can be hard to figure out what to believe or not. And this is especially true when it comes to science and health news. Crazy claims and sketchy science reporting dilutes the public’s understanding of science, which can have some big consequences, especially when it comes to our health and environment. How can we make solid decisions--like how to vote, what to buy or what can make us sick, if our science news is hyped? Host Myles Bess helps you get above the noise by sharing tips on how to spot bad science reporting. This resource is part of the News and Media Literacy Collection

    Grades: 6-12
  • Are Energy Drinks Really that Bad? | Above the Noise

    Above the Noise host Shirin Ghaffary weighs the potential health risks of drinking energy drinks, and compares them to other sugary, caffeinated beverages. Energy drinks are a billion dollar industry and their popularity keeps growing despite health concerns. We are warned they are particularly dangerous for children and teens -- and there have even been reports of deaths linked to energy drink consumption. In this video we take a closer look at the science to see if energy drinks are really as bad as the hype, and what it is about them that has doctors concerned.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Why Can't Teens Wake Up Early For School? | Above the Noise

    The research shows that teenagers are wired to sleep late, yet most schools in the US start before 8:30 am. Sleep is largely dictated by your genes. Inside all mammals is a tiny region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or the SCN. The SCN is referred to as the body’s master clock, telling the body when to go to sleep and when to wake up. It actually shifts as you age -- and the biggest change happens to teenagers, making it tough for them to wake up for those early classes. But schools aren’t heeding the research. Most school schedules revolve around the typical 9 to 5 workday of adults, and so there is a general worry that pushing back when school starts will be too disruptive. What’s the solution? Watch the latest Above the Noise episode to find out.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Is Your Social Status Making You Sick? | Above the Noise

    Financial inequality has been in the news a lot recently. It was the rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street movement that began back in 2011, and it was at the center of Bernie Sanders’ campaign when he ran for president. This inequality creates what is typically called a social status ladder, with rich people at the top and poorer people toward the bottom. Research shows that your position on the ladder is actually one of the most powerful predictors of health. But it’s so much more than just how much money you have or how fancy your education is. It’s how you feel you compare to other people -- your subjective social status. We’ve scoured the research, looking at human and animal studies, to find out how your subjective social status actually affects your health.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Gerrymandering: Is Geometry Silencing Your Vote? | Above the Noise

    Fair elections are at the heart of American democracy, but many people argue that politicians have been undermining this American ideal through the practice of what is called gerrymandering. Gerrymandering has been described as the process of politicians picking their voters instead of the voters picking their politicians. In order to really understand this concept, you need to know how voting districts work. In this episode of Above the Noise, host Myles Bess breaks down gerrymandering, and how politicians on both sides of the aisle use sophisticated software to rig the voting system in their party’s favor.

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Do Algorithms Predict Criminal Behavior? | Above the Noise

    It’s no big secret that the United States has a prison problem. We lock up people at higher rates than any other nation, and there are huge racial disparities in who we lock up. According to a study from The Sentencing Project, in state prisons, African Americans are incarcerated 5 times more than whites. There are lots of reasons for why we may see these racial disparities, including law enforcement practices, crime rates, and punitive sentencing policies. Keeping so many people in prison is really expensive-- it costs about $80 billion dollars a year-- and it contributes to racial inequalities in America. As a result, there’s a big push among both Democrats and Republicans to reform our prison system. And one popular strategy many people advocate for as part of this reform effort are risk assessment tools. The tools use data to predict whether a person will commit a future crime. This video explores how these tools work and some of the controversy surrounding their use.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Adam Savage of Myth Busters on Why Science Matters | Above the Noise

    In a special episode of Above the Noise, host Shirin Ghaffary asked the host of the popular TV show MythBusters, Adam Savage, about why he participated in the March for Science in San Francisco on April 22. Savage is a passionate advocate for science. He says that much of the current opposition to science in this country comes from the belief that it’s an “elitist, provocative way of looking at the world. When in fact, it’s just an attempt to look at the world clearly.” In addition to supporting scientists, Savage says it’s also crucial to teach media literacy so that young people learn how to separate fact from fiction in the media.

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Do Different Social Media Platforms Affect Your Mood? | Above the Noise

    Do a quick Google search on how social media affects your mood, and the results make it seem like all the social media platforms will plunge you into depression. Facebook shows everyone’s perfect life and exotic vacations. Expertly curated selfies abound on Instagram. But, if you look at the actual research, the results aren’t that simple. In this Above the Noise video, host Myles Bess breaks down the science and cuts through the hype about the link between depression and social media use, and looks at how different social media platforms may affect your brain in different ways.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Is Marijuana Actually Medicinal? | Above the Noise

    With the results of the 2016 election, use of medical marijuana is now approved in 28 states, plus Washington, D.C., but the plant itself is not approved as medicine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It still remains federally illegal. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug-- which is a category reserved for the most dangerous drugs, drugs that do not show any medical benefit. This classification makes it difficult for researchers to study, because drugs in this category are very tightly regulated. Host Myles Bess explores the research surrounding medical marijuana and discusses some of the challenges researchers face in studying it.

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Could 3D Printed Guns Affect Gun Laws? | Above the Noise

    In the United States, the gun debate has been raging for decades. Gun rights advocates think there are enough -- or maybe too many -- laws restricting their second amendment right to bear arms. Those wanting more gun control believe that to protect people’s safety, we need the government to regulate who can have a gun. But what happens when technology is one step ahead of the laws? That’s the case with 3-D printed guns. It’s always been legal for adults to make their own guns at home, but traditionally, that required specialized tools and a lot of skill. 3-D printing, however, is changing that, making it significantly easier to make a gun from scratch. This has sparked both interest from gun enthusiasts and concerns about public safety. Host Shirin Ghaffary explores how 3-D printed guns are affecting the gun debate in the United States.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Does Climate Change Cause Extreme Weather? | Above the Noise

    Fluctuations in weather happen all the time. But sometimes, those fluctuations can get extreme, making disasters like hurricanes and heatwaves more intense. What role does climate change play in extreme weather? Watch the latest Above the Noise episode to find out.

    Grades: 6-12

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