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Monday Morning Ready01.08.2016
Jumpstart Your Week!

The Death Star of the movies might be one of the most terrifying weapons of mass destruction ever created. But it's clear that the moon-sized space station wasn't the most well-thought-out undertaking. After all, what good is a planet-destroying weapon if it can be taken down by one measly little X-Wing? ... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Would you want to live on a space station built around an asteroid? Why or why not?

Grade 5-6

What would be the risks and benefits of dragging an asteroid back to Earth orbit?

Grade 7-8

Do you think it's more beneficial for scientists to study science fiction movies or for science fiction writers to interview scientists? Why?

Grade 9-10

Many things get destroyed in action movies. Writers rarely include the economic impact of these events. How do you think it would affect the plot if they did?

LESSON PLAN
Research, Redesign and Report

PROCESS:

  1. Point out that in the article Zachary Feinstein identified a realistic way to build a better Death Star. He listed scientific and economic reasons why his idea would work. Inform students you are now challenging them to do the same thing.
  2. Instruct students to select a science fiction movie they've all seen. Have them identify one object from the movie that all students are familiar with. 
  3. Have students make a list of the object's key features and select one feature that could be redesigned to improve the object's performance. Have them conduct research to learn how this could be done. 
  4. Tell students to draw a model of their redesigned object. Then have them write a report that highlights the scientific and economic advantages of redesigning the object in this way.

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their models and reports. Encourage classmates to discuss the scientific and economic advantages of modifying each object.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:   

Grades 3-4:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to identify a movie and select one object to improve. Then have group members brainstorm ideas about how this could be done. Ideas can be based on reality or may be purely fictional. Once a change is agreed upon, have each group draw a model illustrating its idea. Tell students to identify one scientific and one economic advantage of the redesigned object. Have each group write a brief report outlining its ideas. 

Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to identify a movie and select one object to improve. Then have group members brainstorm ideas about how this could be done. Challenge them to identify real-life examples as the basis for each change. Then have each group draw a model illustrating its idea. Tell students to identify one scientific and one economic advantage of the redesigned object. Have them write a brief report outlining their ideas.

Grades 7-8:
Assign each student a partner. Instruct each pair to identify a movie and select one object to improve. Then have partners brainstorm ideas about how this could be done. Require them to identify real-life examples as the basis for each change. Have each pair draw a model illustrating its idea. Then have them write a detailed report in which they outline their ideas and identify as many scientific and economic advantages of the redesign as they can. 

Grades 9-10:
Assign each student a partner. Instruct each pair to identify a movie and select one object to improve. Then have partners brainstorm ideas to identify at least one large-scale and one small-scale change that could result in a better functioning object. Require students to identify real-life examples as the basis for each change. Have each pair draw a model illustrating its idea. Then have them write a detailed report in which they outline their ideas and identify as many scientific and economic advantages of the redesign as they can. 

SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
Cosmic Times: Science Fiction Story
In this NASA lesson, students will create a fictional narrative on the beginning of time. They will use their knowledge of the Big Bang Theory and go back into time to when it occurred so they can make observations about it. They have four options as to a final product.

In the Round—Architecture Form and Function
In this lesson, students will learn about the relationship of form to function in architecture as they create polygonal structures that serve a particular function. They will see that the issue of form and function is one that designers of all types are involved with.

“Star Wars” Roundup: From Science Fiction to Science Fact
This Smithsonian article describes the science fiction behind several locations and astrological events described in the “Star Wars” movies. Click the links to read how scientists later proved that these examples of science fiction are actually fact.

Inside the Three-Decade Evolution of “Star Wars” Costumes
This Smithsonian article examines how “Star Wars” costumes have evolved over the past 30 years and explores how they have become part of our cultural knowledge base.

Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
In this online exhibition, students will examine the mythology beneath the “Star Wars” story by winding their way through the “hero’s journey” outlined in the plot and examining artifacts from the original “Star Wars” trilogy.
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