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Shampoo claims - truth or lies?

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Data work
Topic: Forces

A hair shampoo advert claiming to make hair 10% stronger has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. There was, says the ASA, insufficient scientific evidence to support the claim. This activity asks students to evaluate data from hair strength trials, and to decide what the data shows (if anything!). They then examine other advertisers' claims.

Published: 18th May 2005
Reviews & Comments: 11

Learning objectives

Students will examine advertising claims for their accuracy

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Scientific enquiry
� Obtaining evidence – making sufficient relevant observations and measurements to obtain reliable evidence
� Evaluating – consider whether evidence is sufficient to support any conclusions made

Running the activity

Display page 1 to set the scene – this shows the hair advertisement's claim as well as making clear that claims like this need to be scientifically investigated. The page also includes several other advertising claims. Then display page 2, which sets the tasks:
� Evaluate the data on page 3 to see if the data is reliable and the claim valid
� Look at the advertisers' claims on page 1. Decide which can be investigated scientifically and plan strategies to investigate these.

The data on page 3 is pretty inconclusive! No 'before' tests are recorded, and the sample size is very small. From the data, it is not possible to work out who was using the shampoo making the claim. There are also several anomalous results – it might be worth asking students to look out for these.

News links

Advertising Standards Authority
This website explains how the organisation makes decisions on advertisements' honesty or otherwise. Their adjudications on various complaints are also included.
BBC news
The BBC has removed their report about this story from its website. The text is given in the Word version of the teachers' notes for this activity.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?


Sep 20th, 2012

5 Star

An excellent activity, pupils really enjoyed the lesson !


Reviewer: Zahid Butt

Shampoo claims - truth or lies? review

Oct 16th, 2011

5 Star

Reviewer: George Sabo


Mar 19th, 2011

4 Star

For the purpose of the activity, it does meet requirements.

However, i think it can be extended to give the Ss a chance to research some manufacturers claims and evidence themselves using the internet?

Reviewer: Evette Martinovich

Physical Science 9th grade

Sep 19th, 2010

5 Star

This was a great activity at the end of the scientific method lesson. Students realize that every claim made by a company may not be backed up with scientific studies. Students need to understand the difference between poor research methods, intentional deception, and what is good science. Great stuff.

Reviewer: Cheri Gerhart


Jun 12th, 2009

5 Star

Excellent. I completed this lesson with 102 students.

Real world connection. I included new articles and video clips of commericals.

Great review of experimental design, fair testing, and variables.

A stand alone lesson. Great lesson to have on hand to fill in between units.

Reviewer: Janice Carpenter

KS3 science

Jul 15th, 2008

5 Star

I am currently rewriting our Sc4 scheme to met with the requirements of the Welsh Assembly changes to the science curriculum. Your activities seem to be exciting, relevant and easy to use!

Reviewer: Linda Williams

Shampoo claims - truth or lies? review

Nov 22nd, 2007

5 Star

An excellent activity. I used it with year 11 students to look at experimental evidence critically.

Reviewer: jamila mirza


May 25th, 2006

5 Star

Ihave used this activity with with a variety of ability groups and they were all engaged and liked the chance to discuss adverts .


Shampoo claims - truth or lies?

Jul 30th, 2005

4 Star

This is a very successful way of engaging students in developing skills in evaluating both data and experiemntal design. Always valuable to have a 'real world' investigation to work with and to teach the main pointers required to meet assessment criteria. Following this upd8, I assessed year 10 students ability to 'evaluate' using a formal in-class task - all made improvements in attainment and in confidence.

Reviewer: Mary Oliver

Shampoo claims-truth or lies?

Jun 17th, 2005

5 Star

I used this with a fairly low ability class as a post-Sats activity. It went very well and initiated excellent discussion amongst the pupils about the validity of data and how we can test advertising claims in the lab. This will be an excellent introduction to the way of thinking in 21st Century Science at KS4

Reviewer: Madeleine Walton


May 20th, 2005

1 Star

I used this with a mixed ability class prior to the National Curriculm tests. They enjoyed it and it was a useful quick revision activity. The more able found it easy and I gave them the recent test question that was based on electrochemistry whilst ostensibly referring to the reactivity series.

Thank you for a worthwhile activity,

Stephen Burrowes.

Reviewer: Stephen Burrowes