Summer SAVY 2019: Session 2, Day 4 – Stories and the Structure of the Universe (Rising 5th/6th)
First thing this morning, we returned to Ray Bradbury’s suspenseful science fiction story “A Sound of Thunder,” to quickly recap the most important events in the story and consider the concepts Bradbury was engaging. Students were particularly fascinated by the idea of a chain reaction or “butterfly effect” that Bradbury incorporated. We discussed the ways science fiction and fantasy writers have to create “rules” to structure their fictional worlds, and a question arose as to how, according to the logic of Bradbury’s story, the untimely death of a butterfly in the distant past could lead to changes in the English language and the election of a corrupt politician in the year 2055. Students were eager to share their theories, so we took a few moments for everyone to map out a possible sequence of events, such as: the butterfly dies, a frog that needs to eat the butterfly cannot survive, a fish (or other predator) needing to eat a frog doesn’t survive, a caveman fails to catch a fish and starves, the caveman’s eventual descendent William Shakespeare is never born, the English language evolves differently, and our culture also evolves differently so that American citizens elect President Deutscher rather than President Keith in the year 2055. We considered the story from a structural perspective and analyzed ways different elements of the story interact to create meaning. Students found the ideas of symbolism, mood, tone, and theme especially interesting!
Students read another story, “The Fun They Had” by Isaac Asimov, to trace key features of science fiction as well as big ideas about structure. Considering both short stories alongside the novel A Wrinkle In Time, students gained deeper insight into how structure and function can create cause-effect relationships, the ways structure can promote function or malfunction, and ways parts of a story interact to create meaning and make a story interesting.
Students began work on their individual projects today! Some have chosen to research NASA missions, and others have opted to synthesize ideas from the course into creative products. We look forward to completing these projects tomorrow and sharing them with you!
A Wrinkle In Time is getting more and more exciting the further we read. Students were more engrossed in the novel than ever and begged to keep reading, even when we were clearly running out of time at the end of the day! We did manage to tear ourselves away from this absorbing novel long enough to investigate the fascinating topic of black holes. Questions about black holes have filled our question “parking lot” over the past few days, so everyone was eager to learn! We knew from the outset that we likely wouldn’t discover the answers to all our questions about black holes, as scientists are still working to answer some of these very questions, but we were able to answer several, and students celebrated by moving their questions from the “questions” section of the “parking lot” to our “aha moments” section. Students then completed a fun scientific modeling challenge. Partner pairs received only two items–a ballon and a sheet of aluminum foil–with the challenge of modeling how a star collapses into a black hole. Ask your SAVY student about this activity!
We have explored so many thrilling concepts this week, and we are looking forward to sharing our learning with you at tomorrow’s Open House!
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