The Office on Youth started teaching Media Detective as a small pilot program. Students, teachers, and the assistant principal in the afterschool program loved Media Detective.
Jacobs said the students’ enthusiasm stemmed from the fact that the program didn’t feel like more school—it felt like being a detective! Students were especially
eager to analyze real-life ads featuring basketball players, video games, and other things they knew well in real life. Whereas previously they may have simply accepted the advertisements at face value, Media Detective sparked critical conversations about the techniques and hidden messages advertisers use. At the end, students made their own “counter-ads” by spoofing advertisements to create educational posters about the dangers of substance use.
One of the challenges the Office on Youth faced was finding a program adaptable to the afterschool schedule. This made the curriculum easy to teach and fun for students to learn. Even with the Office on Youth’s Tuesday/Thursday afterschool schedule, students stayed engaged with the program from week-to-week.
The Office on Youth originally taught the Media Detective program to 3rd and 4th graders in afterschool. But the program’s popularity encouraged the office to expand its offering— soon, 5th graders will have the opportunity to become Media Detectives as well!