PTI
PTI Curriculum Units Events FAQ Contact Links
IMGALTTAG
IMGALTTAG Volume III: Learning Physics Through Science Fiction


Synopsis: Physics/ Science Fiction/Art
Maryn Ann Gaser

This is an art course that revisits the classic theme "Alien’s from Outer Space" The course investigates current science fiction that is based on hard science. The course also encourages students to investigate astronomy and cosmology by bringing outside resources into the classroom in the form of videos and a Carnegie Science Center presentation. The combination of reading science fiction and studying physics enables the students to build a body of knowledge in astronomy and cosmology. They then see how authors have used knowledge of astronomy and cosmology in a creative way to write thrilling science fiction. The students will then draw from these experiences to create their own papier-mâché alien and write a science fiction short story.


Click here to view complete unit.
IMGALTAG

Blending Solid Science With the Craft of Fiction Writing
Lynn Marsico

If you teach middle school or high school students who may be interested in writing science fiction stories, this unit can help. Although the curriculum was written by a Language Arts teacher, scientific information and resources are included to make it a truly interdisciplinary experience.

After a discussion of the science fiction genre and why it is appropriate for adolescents, specific topics in cosmology and physics are summarized. These include black holes, time travel, space travel and relativity, and quantum mechanics. Science fiction stories by authors such as Larry Niven, Charles Sheffield, and Ray Bradbury are suggested for each scientific topic.

The unit then addresses specific issues in the craft of fiction writing such as defining the story idea and developing the scientific problem, developing characters, and adding detail and description to the narrative.


Click here to view complete unit.
IMGALTAG The Power Of a Good Story. Scare Them Into Action Using Science Fiction To Provoke Action Towards Environmental Concerns
Sally Martin

This unit was designed to be part of an emphasis on science, technology and society that is delivered as four projects throughout the year during a 10th grade chemistry class. As a project for the third quarter the students will be asked to write a science fiction story to describe what happens if we do not address some of the environmental problems or ethical concerns produced by our technology. The purpose of the story will be to provoke the reader to take a stand on the issues.

The students will first discuss what are the features of a science fiction story. They will then examine the role science fiction had in shaping public attitudes towards the atomic bomb during the fifties and sixties. For this they will read a short story and view excerpts from a movie. The science content of two stories will be evaluated and integrated with a unit on quantum mechanics. Addressing the scientific content will aid the students’. understanding of this unit as well as give them an opportunity to read more of what might be an unfamiliar genre. Finally the project is described and a grading rubric provided. Since the final project was completed by students this year, there is some discussion of the stories produced and how to use them to promote further discussion and closure on the issues.


Click here to view complete unit.
IMGALTAG

The Facts About Science Fiction Investigating How Much Science Fiction is Really Fiction
Rich Rostauscher

The purpose of this unit is to incorporate the teaching of science through the use of science fiction. This unit uses three separate short stories to introduce different topics throughout the year. After the third story, you should have an understanding of how to incorporate science fiction into your curriculum so you can start or finish each quarter with one of these short units. Each short story covers anywhere from three to ten scientific topics as well as reinforcing mathematics, reading, and art. These stories incorporate standards in science, communications, and mathematics. I have set it up so that you can decide how many topics you cover for each story and you may add more subject matter at your own discretion. The stories will be used to introduce different units throughout the year (i.e. - Ecology, Astronomy, and Biology). These stories and activities are designed for all secondary levels and can be easily modified for inclusion classes as well as advanced placement classes. I have included numerous activities for each story so others may "pick and choose" how much they would like to cover in class.


Click here to view complete unit.
IMGALTAG

Space Oddities
Linnell Simmons

Primary aged children display extreme curiosity and are excited about scientific events. This curiosity diminishes greatly by high school age. Students are convinced that physics and chemistry are incomprehensible to developed fears of science. The use of science fiction in science curriculum can greatly inspire students. This is a new, different and exciting approach to teaching science. Nurturing this excitement is crucial because of the need for scientific knowledge has never been greater. "Technology is racing along at warp factor six and in order to succeed in the new millennium, all students are going to need a better understanding of the sciences." Science is a vehicle for comprehension. It allows us to better understand ourselves and our surroundings. It teaches us how to make decisions and consider the future consequences of our actions.

Interest in science can be increased and developed using science fiction. It can help improve negative attitudes towards science. In reading science fiction books, abstract concepts such as mutations, radiation, space travel and planets are experienced. It is a way for students to encounter concepts in a new context. Students are more likely to remember information with in an entertaining way. A far broader spectrum of students can be motivated using this method compared to traditional methods. Reading science fiction books increases scientific vocabulary. They allow students to imagine abstract topics. Discussion of science fiction books develops an understanding of science processes and the interconnectedness of science disciplines.


Click here to view complete unit.
IMGALTAG

Mathematics and Science Fiction
Jerry W. Smith

This curriculum unit is based on a series of science fiction stories that have a mathematical theme. It is designed with two purposes in mind. First, it introduces students to mathematical literature and second, it presents, to the students, mathematical ideas in a context other than the standard textbook. By reading and discussing the stories and the mathematics they contain, the students will hopefully gain a fuller understanding of some mathematical ideas and realize that mathematics is not as dull as they think.


Click here to view complete unit.
IMGALTAG

Using Science Fiction to Teach Play Writing
Mary C. Wyse

At the beginning of this course, students will learn the basics of play writing. I will use models of published plays to show students how to put together a play of their own. They will practice writing dialogues, scenes, and skits.

The curriculum is divided into four units. Each unit has a different scientific topic. These are the topics I have chosen: space travel; quantum mechanics/parallel universes; black holes/gravity; and time travel. Each unit is composed of four sections: an introduction, which includes discussion and theater games; reading; writing; and presentation.

The introduction section allows students to begin thinking about that particular topic. With pantomiming and improvisation, students will develop their creative abilities and talents. Students will learn hard scientific information from the science fiction stories they read. They will be able to put that knowledge into use when they write their acts, scenes, dialogues, and plays. The culminating activity will be a performance by the students during the presentation section of the unit.

This curriculum will combine science, science fiction, and drama. It will encourage students to read science fiction, and to take the scientific information and create a play, scene, or dialogue based on this information. It will broaden the students’ knowledge of play writing, and it will foster a creative atmosphere where students will use their imaginations.


Click here to view complete unit.

Chatham University
IMGALTTAG
IMGALTTAG
IMGALTTAG Pittsburgh Teachers Institute
Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
IMGALTTAG
IMGALTTAG