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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Charles Sheffield's "That Strain Again"

  1. Microcosmic Tales, ed. Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph D. Olander, Taplinger 1980
  2. Science Fiction and Fantasy Story-A-Month 1989 Calendar, ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg, Pomegranate 1988
  3. Georgia on My Mind and Other Places, Tor 1995
  4. 100 Amazing Little Alien Stories, ed. Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg, Barnes & Noble 1996
  5. Online
  • You may want to use this for either (or both, but it may be too far above or below students' ability level depending on the use)
  1. Reading Science Articles (more critically--10-12)
  2. Earth/Space science (seasons, earth's axial tilt--6-9)
Pre-Reading Terminology (or Post):
  • Here are some terms that may be useful to prime students to think about the issues presented in the story if you're using this to help students read more critically:
  1. Causality (cause and effect--which causes which?)
  2. Coincidence (note root word: coincide; have them note the term's use in science)
  3. Correlation (importantly, correlation does not imply causation--simplified: co-relation = (as in co-opertion = operating together) things relate to one another.
  • These articles will be largely over the heads of most students. However, if you have advanced science students, tell them to read at least the introductory paragraphs. They need to get comfortable with not necessarily understanding everything they read and with picking up what they can.
  • If pressed for time, explain the terms yourself.
  • Aliens visit planet Earth but flee when they believe they've infected it with some disease that kills off the primary life forms. They are surprised when visitors from Earth arrive on their home planet.
Questions & Experiments:
  1. Why were Vega IV people surprised or relieved to see Earthlings?
  2. Take a flash light and point it straight down at your desk. Now compare that to when you tip the flashlight at an angle. Do some parts get more light than others? Explain.
  3. What effect do you think more light might have on an area? Devise an experiment with paper, the sun, and a magnifying glass that demonstrates your hypothesis. Have a classmate conduct the same experiment with a flashlight rather than the sun. If the results are the same or different, hypothesize why that might be.
  4. Apply: What kinds of things use sunlight? What might happen if those things did not get enough sunlight? Think about what happens during a year. When do these creatures get lots of sunlight and when do they get very little? Search "Earth's axial tilt." Summarize your findings.
  5. What makes Vega IV different? Make a model of Earth's axial tilt, by thrusting a pen through a styrofoam ball, and one of Vega IV. Shine your flashlight on Earth and on Vega IV. Explain to a classmate and have them explain it back.
  6. Using what you've learned so far, could all of Vega IV be a "paradise" or "Garden of Eden"? Explain what would probably happen at the equator versus the poles.
  7. If you've read the book or seen the movie War of the Worlds, compare and contrast what happened there with what happens here.
  8. Can these "Ethical People" of Vega IV be called "Wise People?" Why or why not?
  9. The narrator may be implying that the people of Vega IV were nicer and more ethical, if a little dull, because of their environment's consistency. Do you agree? Support your answer. Ask yourself to what degree does environment impact behavior. Can you find scientific evidence online supporting your hypothesis?
  10. If you can think of other questions, please let us know.
Critical Thinking/Science Article Questions:
  1. Explain which term applies to what happened (support your answer): 1) correlation, cause and effect (causality), coincidence.
  2. When there are too many variables to isolate, science does correlations--that is, it tries to find if there's a relationship between two events. Devise experiments that the Vega IV people might have conducted to see if actions or presence caused the events occurring around them. Why is their presence in one time and location not a very good experiment? Would conducting such an experiment be ethical? Explain your answer. Although it might require quite a long time, come up with an experiment that would lower the possibility of violating any ethical problems.
  3. If you can think of other questions, please let us know.
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