Friday, July 15, 2011

Stars Die Too

Day 4

We started out the day by going for a hike at Vedauwoo. Living so close, I've been there before, but I've never been on the particular trail we went on. It was about a 3-mile hike. The weather was perfect, if not a little hot, and I saw a chipmunk (pretty common) and a few of us saw a moose. It worried me a little because it was pretty close to the trail. I never know what a wild animal is going to do, and even moose will charge. They are actually pretty mean. Anyway, we were fine. It continued to munch away.

After the hike, we all had lunch, then we had to head back to the classroom. Mike Brotherton lectured on Supernovas, White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars, Black Holes. Basically, all of these are ways in which a star can die. Most people will recognize a Supernova because it is an explosion in the sky, and who doesn't like explosions? The others occur just as a fading of the star. Of course, it's a bit more complicated with various chemical reactions, but the end result is the same.

After that, another speaker talked to us about Science Education and Science Fiction. He told us about studies that were conducted about students' perception of science and how it can be altered by movies and media. Without proper guidance, they will believe that the science in Armageddon (one example; there are several others) is true. Are the stories entertaining? Of course, but they have no basis in reality.

He showed us a video from Sir Ken Robinson. It was both amusing and educational. I pretty much agreed with everything he said because I'm a total advocate for keeping creativity in school. We shouldn't teach for the test, we need to teach so kids can figure out their world. I don't want to go off on a tangent, so I'll leave it at that.

What was the point? We're writers, not teachers, what can we do? Well, we can reach a larger audience than most teachers. Books and movies are entertainment, but that doesn't mean they can't teach something in the process. We have the ability to make learning fun, and we should strive to do that. Again, it goes back to being able to police ourselves and make sure our science is as accurate as possible.

I thought a lot about my first book, Coming from Nowhere. It's science fiction, but it is definitely not based in any real science. It was written purely for entertainment. I also have several novellas and short stories that were written in the same vein. I don't regret writing those stories, and I think they have their place. But my goal from now on is to write stories that more closely follow the real science. It is going to be a fun and interesting challenge!

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