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Assembly: Science Fiction or Science Fact?

This assembly resource from the Association for Science Education (ASE) aims to take a light-hearted look at why some science fiction ideas become reality and others do not. The assembly emphasises the importance of a basic understanding of science, in order to enter into debate. This resource consists of a speech, which could be read in an assembly, or used as the basis for pupils to develop their own assembly, considering science fiction versus science fact. Guidelines to help students produce their assembly and some suggested websites to stimulate further work are also included.

Head teacher or head of year
Use images or video clips from television or film, perhaps old rocket ships in the original Flash Gordon, or clips from old Star Trek or Doctor Who episodes etc., to introduce the assembly.

Alternatively, read a short extract from a science fiction novel describing a fictional technology.

During the assembly ask students to suggest what were predictions of the future at the time, and which of these have come true.

Ask students to think about why certain predictions have not come true.

Read selected sections from the prepared Assembly text.

Summarise by asking students what factors they think determines whether science fiction becomes reality, drawing out the key factors in the Assembly summary section. Ask them which science fiction ideas they would like to see becoming reality and why, and emphasise the need for everyone to have a basic scientific understanding, in order to enter into the debates regarding the impact of science on society.

For students preparing an assembly
Provide students' guidelines for organising the assembly and a copy of the assembly speech to each group.

Students could include some research done at home, asking older members of their families which scientific developments have changed their lives the most since they were children, and the areas that seem to have changed the least? Students can also make their own predictions as to what changes they expect to take place in the next 20 years.

Using information from the assembly speech and perhaps further research, students can collect examples of science fiction predictions that have/have not become scientific reality. For example, are we really running out of oil? Science fiction in the 1930s focused heavily on nuclear power because it was predicted that we would quickly run out of oil. Why has this not happened?

Genetic screening is used as an example of a scientific debate that may have a considerable effect on society. Students could substitute this with another issue, for example, cloning, nuclear power or space exploration.

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