Session S31b (Monday, 2pm, Osmond 101)

P247: Teaching science using science fiction

John Jefferson (Luther College, USA)

Effective teaching should generate curiosity, interest and enthusiasm for the subject.  Examining the underlying scientific principles in works of popular science fiction is a valuable way to make the teaching of science more effective.  For example, the literary development of the genre of science fiction is closely linked with the historical development of science.  Furthermore, works of science fiction can lead students to consider alternative futures and the implications of scientific discoveries, prompting questions into the philosophical and ethical implications of science as a human endeavor.  It is important however to make the distinction between works of popular fantasy and hard science fiction that adhere to the principles by which science operates.  The author David Hartwell has called this the “standard of plausibility”, and it is the thesis of this presentation that this standard of plausibility be used as a guideline for teaching science using science fiction.

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