Persuade someone to take action on an issue you care about.
© Project MASH
What do you care about? What would you like to see changed? Get your voice heard by someone who matters! In Convince Me you’ll explore the power of persuasion, try out various tactics, and get your message out there to make a difference. As you explore this process, you’ll decide whether to write a letter, a petition that gets others on board, or produce a multi-media campaign.
- Internet for research
- Paper and writing materials
- Digital media tools to develop a media piece (optional)
Identify a topic. What do you care about? Consider problems in your school or neighborhood that bug you, as well as larger global issues you’re interested in.
- Get the facts. Conduct some research to identify key information on the topic. What are some ways people are addressing this problem? Which solutions seem the most promising?
- Identify your target. Who has the power to actually make change on this issue? Find out more about this person. What is their position on the topic? What have they done to help or hurt the problem?
- Choose your format.
- Letter Writing | One of the most common ways to share your ideas is to simply write a letter. Of course, if you want to motivate this person to action, you’ll want to write a really effective letter. An effective letter gets inside the recipient’s head by figuring out what they care about: personal image, a specific issue, local voters, and so on. You can level-up your letter writing by making it public (i.e. publishing it in a newspaper or online) or by making it into a petition with multiple signatures. For example, look at these letters to the President on the topic of gun violence.
- Multi-media Message | Another option is to produce a media piece that communicates your message. This could be a video, a website, or an online presentation. To level this up, consider finding and connecting with important people via popular social media channels and getting them to broadcast your message to their followers. Want another example? How about Severn Cullis-Suzuki speaking at UN conference on Environment and Development in 1992 at the age of 13.
- Choose your style and voice. Depending on your audience and the urgency of the issue, you’ll want to think very carefully about the tone of your letter. You might choose one of the tones below for your entire letter, but more likely you’ll need to mix them all together to make your letter more compelling and effective for your intended audience.
- The Advocate: Your goal is to make the audience aware of an issue. This position works well with issues that are less known to the community. Example for raising awareness: “In the past year, the number of children in our community on free & reduced lunch has increased by twenty-five percent.”
- The Diplomat: Your goal is to win your audience over so they will be compelled to take action. Example of appealing to your audience: “In the past you’ve voted on issues the support funding for needy people. I know you are the right person (or organization) to….”
- The Activist: Your goal is to make an urgent appeal that makes your audience feel there is no other option but to take action now. This position works well with issues that are critical or urgent to address. Example of an urgent tone: “Children in our community don’t know where their next meal will come from; the issue of child hunger must be addressed immediately.”
- Get it done!
- Use the research you’ve done on your topic to outline your key ideas.
- Consider the audience for this letter. Do your key ideas target their interests?
- Remember your style and voice choice, but don’t forget to consider who you are addressing. If you’re sending a letter to the President you’ll want to use a much more formal style and address him in the proper way.
- Write your first draft, then ask someone to review it.
- Check point: Does it have a powerful voice? (Is your goal of being an advocate, diplomat or activist coming across?)
- Revise. Read aloud to an audience. Do they seem convinced? Use their feedback to finalize your work.
Science and Engineering Practices
- Asking questions and defining problems
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
The above activity is licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) license type by Creative Commons which allows you to remix, tweak, and build upon this work non-commercially as long as you credit the California Academy of Sciences and license any new creations under the identical terms.
Check out our Citizen Science Toolkit, designed to help educators integrate citizen science projects into classroom curricula or afterschool programming.
It contains resources—including lessons, readings, and worksheets—to help communicate the value of citizen science to students and cultivate their sense of empowerment and impact when performing science investigations.