Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Teaching with Science Fiction: 10 Reasons for Use in a Science Class

Origin of the List


Writing as Valerie Smith, I once presented a paper at AAAS in New Orleans with co-authors Jessica Scott and my husband Wayne Coskrey. This list is from that paper, except #10. In the original paper, items 1-9 each had 2 or more peer-reviewed-type references cited. Furthermore, the list is reworded to not be so nerdy.
Re: "Teaching the Science in Science Fiction," 1990.

10 Reasons to Use Science Fiction in the Science Classroom


Apophysis flame "Spaceman" (c) V. Coskrey
  • SF can motivate students to like science.
  • SF models scientific thinking and problem-solving.
  • SF presents the science world-view.
  • SF illustrates how science and technology affect lives.
  • SF examines scientific issues for possible solutions and potential consequences.
  • SF models possible futures, preparing students for change.
  • SF connects science to the humanities and social sciences.
  • SF provides practice in reading skills.
  • SF fosters vivid mental images of scientific phenomena.
  • SF is fun that can be shared!
Adapted from V. Smith, J. Scott, and W. Coskrey (1990). Teaching the Science in Science Fiction. Unpublished paper presented to AAAS, New Orleans, LA.

Additional Remarks: Start a Conversation

Like any good book shared among friends and associates, science fiction offers conversation starters. Class discussions often need an example to get the students thinking and talking. Examples from books can lead to examples from personal experiences and then to examples from the textbook or the teacher's knowledge.

Now the student is ready to learn technical concepts and vocabulary because the concept has become real to the student. Now the student is ready for a vocabulary word and a definition. Now the student is ready to state a law. Now the student is ready to solve a problem based in math or chemistry. Why now? Because the mental images of concrete examples offer a sense of reality--the science is more real to the student.

by Valerie Coskrey

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