Improving Science Literacy Through Science Fiction Literature, Films, and Digital Games
This dissertation demonstrates the role of science fiction literature, films and digital games in enhancing scientific literacy at a high school level. While there are many ways of teaching scientific concepts, this project studies how science content may be taught through an analysis of specific science fiction novels, films, and video games. These works include: the book and film versions of Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain (1969) and The State of Fear (2004); The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. Wilson (2019) and Change Agent by Daniel Suarez (2017); the film, Gattaca, written and directed by Andrew M. Niccol (1997;) Naomi Oreskes’ The Collapse of The Western Civilization (2014); and Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 (2017) and The Ministry for the Future (2020). Digital games discussed range from Geniverse (2016), In Other Waters (2020), Perfect Strain (2017), Microscopya (2022), Plague Inc: Evolved (2015), The Cure (2021), Mission Biotech (2020) to Maroon (2017). Through an analysis of these SF materials, scientific concepts and issues from bacteriology, biotechnology, climate change and CRISPR are identified and evaluated for their potential use in high school science classroom. Each of the science fiction works provide a coherent narrative that offers students an engaging way to access and understand science in complex contexts. Whether in the form of novels, films or digital games, high school teachers could use these materials as entry points to explain scientific concepts and societal themes in ways the supplement their existing science curricula and learning goals. Used wisely, science fiction works can develop students’ abilities in thinking critically and scientifically through imaginative reading and play which in turn fosters the skill- sets needed to become scientifically literate citizens.