Sue Frantz

How many of my friends believe the 10% brain myth? A classroom activity

Blog Post created by Sue Frantz on Oct 12, 2016

Here’s a quick (seven minutes!) and engaging way to start your brain lecture. Annette Jordan Nielsen (Woods Cross High School in Bountiful, UT) harnesses her students’ connections to gather a little data.


Students pull out their phones or other web-enabled devices and using whatever means they prefer to connect to others (group text, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), students ask “What percent of their potential brain power do you think most people use?”

On the board, she draws a horizontal line. Under the line she writes 10%, 20%, 30%, etc.


Then she shows this 4-minute video from the SciShow that debunks the 10% brain myth.


As students watch the video, they keep an eye on their devices for the responses to their question. Students come to the board to mark the first three responses they get, doing this as the video plays. 


Annette reports that “the charts always end up looking like this [see below] and it really helps open the door to how widespread this myth is. The kids usually walk out the door ready to teach the people who responded what they learn and why they are wrong. I also like to joke that the 100% markings are all my former students.”

Photo credit: Annette Jordan Nielsen