Goldie's Blog

USING SCIENCE FICTION TO EXPAND ON THE CURRICULUM

7 May, 2016 | By Goldie Alexander

 

 

 

Science and science fiction! Placing these together may seem like a contradiction.

Science encompasses the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Science looks for layers of reality.

But Science fiction is imaginary. Made up. It is fiction thatdeals with the impact of imaginary events upon a society or individuals. If it describes a world or an event hard to imagine. Nevertheless, to be any good, it must have a consistent internal logic and contain sustained and believable characters. Most importantly, it draws on the reader to visualise a vastly different world from the one around us. At its best it can throw up a mirror to the real world around us.

 I am not a science teacher. But it occurs to me that using science fiction could be an effective tool in the teaching of science. Fiction above all calls on a student’s imagination and creativity. Good science also demands creativity and imagination to find ways to prove or disprove hypotheses.

To complete the present curriculum, primary students are expected to be made aware of short-term changes on this planet. It demands that they note changes in the sky, observe and record environmental changes that occur over a long time, identify seasonal changes, note the appearance of the moon, be aware of landscape changes and the importance of our resources. But what if one, only one of these factors, was to change? What might happen then?  What are some possible outcomes? It would take only one small happening to throw everything as we know it off kilter.

This is what science fiction does. It changes the known and familiar to produce imaginary yet perfectly logical consequences. But to understand the unfamiliar, the familiar must first be observed and recorded. If students are trained to identify some resource such as soil, minerals and water, and note how are they presently used, science fiction posits the question: what would happen if this resource became scarce or even disappeared entirely?

Let’s use water as our example. Students are expected to note the various way water is used in their daily lives. But what would happen if fresh water became scarce? We are presently watching this happen in many parts of the world. We have yet to control changes in our climate brought on by human activity, though there is much talk and even some planning. But if fresh water becomes even scarcer, how will this alter our lives? How will we handle it? In ‘Cybertricks’,  a novel aimed at upper primary readers set five millenia in the future, water has become the scarcest commodity in the universe.  These children use sonar waves to keep clean. Can this lead to class discussion of what action can be taken to use water sustainably: turning off dripping taps, take shorter showers, encouraging parents to design gardens that use recycled water and avoid planting high water usage plants?

Instead of tapping on a laptop, knowledge buttons controlled by a giant computer known as ConCen are implanted into these future children’s skulls, their everyday needs handled by holo-tutors. Students can be asked to draw parallels by exploring ways in which present day people use science and technology in their daily lives.   Can children be encouraged to imagine a future where humans carry so many implants they virtually become human/androids? Currently, work is being done on glasses that allow interactive action between the user and a cyber world of holos. If something has been invented, it is very likely that sooner or later it will be used.

We are presently changing the planet from what it possibly would be if humans hadn’t evolved. That means that we have interfered with nature and its delicate eco systems. Take our Barrier Reef. Though a world heritage treasure, global warming is killing a huge percent of the coral through whitening and thus destroying the tiny creatures that nurture it. We have to find a decent solution to what is happening so rapidly, or our future becomes dystopian. Perhaps this is why so many science fictions describe such a bleak prospect and often end up by finding a back-up planet.

What if our children were to be plunged into a world where all our technology disappears? Cars. Elecricity. Running water – and it is sobering to realise that the greatest saviour of modern times has been the invention of clean drinkable water. What if they are plunged into a medieval world? How dependant are they on their phones and laptops? In ‘Cybertricks’, the characters, who have so far depended for their very basic needs and survival on ComCen, are placed into this exact situation. How would contemporary children cope? It’s not just a week’s school camp where they are expected to rough it. It is through thinking these problems through that they might become more aware of how dependant we are on technology.

“It is the year 200,043 AD.  Pya, Zumie, Jafet and Trist live in tiny Cells, cared for by their tutor-holos, only communicating via their avatars.  Pya narrates how the giant computer ComCen sends their real bodies back to the mid 21st Century where they meet the twins, Rio and Charlie. Even if these six youngsters manage to survive in a very dangerous world, they must also achieve Independence and Co-operation. But can they?”

 

Cybertricks' cover‘Cybertricks’ can be bought from www.fivesenseseducation.com.au,

many good bookshops or ordered through Goldie.

ISBN 978-1-74130-888-4 RRP $14.95

 

 

 

 

 

  USING SCIENCE FICTION TO EXPAND ON THE AUSTRALIAN CURRICULUM

 

“It is the year 200,043 AD.  Pya, Zumie, Jafet and Trist live in tiny Cells, cared for by their tutor-holos, only communicating via their avatars.  Pya narrates how the giant computer ComCen sends their real bodies back to the mid 21st Century where they meet the twins, Rio and Charlie. Even if these six youngsters manage to survive in a very dangerous world, they must also achieve Independence and Co-operation. But can they?”

 

Science and science fiction! Placing these together may seem like a contradiction.

Science encompasses the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Science looks for layers of reality.

But Science fiction is imaginary. Made up. It is fiction thatdeals with the impact of imaginary events upon a society or individuals. If it describes a world or an event hard to imagine. Nevertheless, to be any good, it must have a consistent internal logic and contain sustained and believable characters. Most importantly, it draws on the reader to visualise a vastly different world from the one around us. At its best it can throw up a mirror to the real world around us.

 I am not a science teacher. But it occurs to me that using science fiction could be an effective tool in the teaching of science. Fiction above all calls on a student’s imagination and creativity. Good science also demands creativity and imagination to find ways to prove or disprove hypotheses.

To complete the present curriculum, primary students are expected to be made aware of short-term changes on this planet. It demands that they note changes in the sky, observe and record environmental changes that occur over a long time, identify seasonal changes, note the appearance of the moon, be aware of landscape changes and the importance of our resources. But what if one, only one of these factors, was to change? What might happen then?  What are some possible outcomes? It would take only one small happening to throw everything as we know it off kilter.

This is what science fiction does. It changes the known and familiar to produce imaginary yet perfectly logical consequences. But to understand the unfamiliar, the familiar must first be observed and recorded. If students are trained to identify some resource such as soil, minerals and water, and note how are they presently used, science fiction posits the question: what would happen if this resource became scarce or even disappeared entirely?

Let’s use water as our example. Students are expected to note the various way water is used in their daily lives. But what would happen if fresh water became scarce? We are presently watching this happen in many parts of the world. We have yet to control changes in our climate brought on by human activity, though there is much talk and even some planning. But if fresh water becomes even scarcer, how will this alter our lives? How will we handle it? In ‘Cybertricks’,  a novel aimed at upper primary readers set five millenia in the future, water has become the scarcest commodity in the universe.  These children use sonar waves to keep clean. Can this lead to class discussion of what action can be taken to use water sustainably: turning off dripping taps, take shorter showers, encouraging parents to design gardens that use recycled water and avoid planting high water usage plants?

Instead of tapping on a laptop, knowledge buttons controlled by a giant computer known as ConCen are implanted into these future children’s skulls, their everyday needs handled by holo-tutors. Students can be asked to draw parallels by exploring ways in which present day people use science and technology in their daily lives.   Can children be encouraged to imagine a future where humans carry so many implants they virtually become human/androids? Currently, work is being done on glasses that allow interactive action between the user and a cyber world of holos. If something has been invented, it is very likely that sooner or later it will be used.

We are presently changing the planet from what it possibly would be if humans hadn’t evolved. That means that we have interfered with nature and its delicate eco systems. Take our Barrier Reef. Though a world heritage treasure, global warming is killing a huge percent of the coral through whitening and thus destroying the tiny creatures that nurture it. We have to find a decent solution to what is happening so rapidly, or our future becomes dystopian. Perhaps this is why so many science fictions describe such a bleak prospect and often end up by finding a back-up planet.

What if our children were to be plunged into a world where all our technology disappears? Cars. Elecricity. Running water – and it is sobering to realise that the greatest saviour of modern times has been the invention of clean drinkable water. What if they are plunged into a medieval world? How dependant are they on their phones and laptops? In ‘Cybertricks’, the characters, who have so far depended for their very basic needs and survival on ComCen, are placed into this exact situation. How would contemporary children cope? It’s not just a week’s school camp where they are expected to rough it. It is through thinking these problems through that they might become more aware of how dependant we are on technology.

If science is about proven actualities, science fiction is all about imaginary possibilities. Before science can ever explain what makes us human creatures capable of great nurture and torture, fiction can attempt to explore these concepts by postulating situations where they are played through.

www.goldiealexander.com

‘Cybertricks’ can be bought from www.fivesenseseducation.com.au

ISBN 978-1-74130-888-4 RRP $14.95

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑