Teaching Science with Science Fiction

By Kelly McCullough1; Laura McCullough2

1. Author 2. Department of Physics, University of Wisconsin - Stout, Menomonie, WI

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Science fiction is one possible tool for increasing engagement in science classrooms, as well as offering opportunities for modeling scientific thinking, illustrating points of scientific interest, and addressing reading and writing standards for classroom content. Science fiction can be used in writing assignments, for example: asking students to create a short story or science comic that addresses the science at hand. Reading assignments might include stories that turn on important points of science. In movie or television format, science fiction can also be used to generate discussion of the potential forces and energy involved in space travel, or the actual outcomes of the more ludicrous sorts of explosions and impact, among other things. Join Laura and Kelly McCullough as they discuss some of the pros and cons of various applications of science fiction to science education.


Kelly McCullough Kelly McCullough writes fantasy, science fiction, and books for kids of varying ages. He lives in Wisconsin with his physics professor wife and a small herd of cats. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series — Penguin/ACE, and the forthcoming School for Sidekicks — Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star — part of an NSF-funded science curriculum — and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp, which he co-authored and co-edited — funding provided by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope.


Laura McCullough Dr. McCullough is the chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She has a Ph.D. in Science Education and has studied gender and science issues as well as physics education research for 15 years.

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  • Kelly McCullough, Laura McCullough (2015), "Teaching Science with Science Fiction," https://nanohub.org/resources/22315.

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