Kids, rightfully, loathe when they don't see the practical applications of what they're learning. Most lessons that I've seen (and that I've taught) tend to start from, Here's what I want you to know, and then, at the end, we try to explain why whatever it is they've learned is applicable in the 'real' world.
Start the other way. Ask your students what their favorite section is of the newspaper and then pass it out. International, Science Times, Sports, Business, whatever.
Have them pick an article they're curious about, and then put them in pairs to start to figure out what they'd need to know to actually understand what they care about. If it's a player's batting prowess, it isn't just a matter of whether he's a good clutch hitter or not. Rather, it is, but that's immensely complex. (Do psychologists believe that there is such thing as clutch? Statistically, what's the expected deviation between hitting with runners on base and bases empty? You can keep going for a long way.)
You can do the same for just about anything interesting. But instead of going from our expected outcomes, what if we went from a student's - to understand more about something they care about and to have that drive an hour, a day, a month, a semester...