From The Teacher’s Corner
Abstract: Students in an introductory college geology course engaged in one of two exercises to learn more about the concept of cross cutting relationships, a major principle in stratigraphy. One exercise involved writing a report on the concept, the other involved writing a science fiction story based on the concept. Preliminary results suggest that students who engaged with the material within the context of science fiction writing gained a deeper understanding.
As a professor of geology and a science fiction writer, I became curious this past academic term about how science fiction writing might influence students’ perceptions of science or their understanding of science ideas. Science fiction is fiction of course, and not intended to be real science. However I thought that science fiction writing might engage students in thinking about science concepts and perhaps provide an educational tool comparable to other science learning methods.
Effective storytelling has always been a good tool in conveying ideas, even subtle and very complex ones.
Sure, you could just teach axioms such as “All Empires Die” or “Everything Has a Price”: but a well-played-out Traveller campaign, with good input from both Referees and Players, has a way of cementing the lessons in.
Not only is the truth is grasped, but how and why the truth works out in (simulated) reality.
While the study was focused on geological concepts, we might suggest that Darwinists have been writing science fiction for decades and publishing it in the scientific journals. Perhaps reviewing those might help students even better grasp the concept of how to do good science fiction.Writing Science Fiction Helps Students Understand Science Better at Uncommon Descent
I doubt it: Darwinism relies too much on the Stuff Happens Law, which strains credibility to – and past – the breaking point.
It’s why Star Wars — with profit and loss, love & hate, pain and love — looks and smells more real than Star Trek. (Star Wars’ Buddhist foundations also looks and smells more real than Star Trek’s atheistic-collectivist utopia.)
Of course, Traveller is also grounded in Darwinism, seasoned with some Greco-Roman Imperial politics, a bit of a Superman/Great Man complex (best symbolized by Grandfather), and psionic magic.
Still, I am here due to
- easily-made starships!
- easily-made sectors!
- a real, honest-to-goodness Map of Charted Space!
- (How on earth you are supposed to work without a map is beyond me)
- A decent level of actual science!
- M A T H is actually useful here!
- Actual limits to what the PCs can and cannot do
and most gloriously
- The focus is on the single group of free men and a starship, with just enough Imperial social/political/military/economic structure to lean on, or warp, or break, or deepen, or flat-out ignore as needed.
A nice trinitarian balance between a single setting; a stable, easy-to-understand ruleset, and a multitude of possibilities.
“There is only one Traveller, in the Little Black Books, and Marc Miller is its prophet!”
I’m a heretic, of course, but more along the lines of the Protestant/Catholic break, not the Christian/Muslim break.