Our current feature exhibition for school excursions is Science Fiction, Science Future. In this, we explore how science and technology can change the course that our future takes, and how science fiction helps us to ask big questions about our future.
Our school program encourages students to ask the big questions about where the future of science and technology will take us. We use a Question Finding exercise that uses four rules for question finding (adapted from the Right Question Institute):
Ask as many questions as you can.
Do not stop to judge, discuss or answer questions.
Write down questions as they are stated.
Try changing statements into questions.
Before exploring the exhibition, students are asked to consider what questions they have about the what the world will be like in the year 2099.
Back in the classroom
build on the question finding process they practiced at Scitech
use the ‘5 Whys’ technique to develop a final question they can investigate through a rich task
communicate their ideas back to the class.
Things you will need
Your list of questions from the Scitech excursion.
Access to computers and the internet for research.
Complete an excursion to Scitech to do the Science Fiction, Science Future question finding activity.
As a group, use the list of question from your Scitech excursion to discuss the process they used to decide which questions they thought are the most important for the year 2099.
Agree on one question as the single most important to answer. This becomes the main question.
Part 1: Divide the class up into small groups, giving each group a ‘The Year 2099 Worksheet’ to capture their ideas at each step of the process. Ask each group to write the main question onto the worksheet.
Also provide each group with one of each of the three types of scenario cards:
1x ‘Need’ card (hexagon pattern)
1x ‘Person’ card (triangle pattern)
1x ‘Technology’ card (square pattern).
These will be used to help students think about their question in a different way and arrive at a unique final question for them to follow through the rest of the activity. They can attach these cards to their worksheet.
Part 2: Now that students have their base question, set of cards, and unique final question, ask the students to use these together to think creatively and critically about what the world could be like in the year 2099.
Introduce the ‘5 Whys’ formula to explore the question. As a group, they should think about the main question in relation to their scenario cards.
Brainstorm the first question they would want to answer with this new scenario, and write this on the worksheet.
Repeat this four more times. Each time, they should frame the question in response to the answer they’ve just recorded.
Their final question becomes their unique question, which they can add to the worksheet when they all agree. They then use this question through the rest of the activity.
Part 3: Discuss how their questions changed when they thought about it with a different need, person or technology in mind.
Using their unique question and scenario cards, each group identifies key things they need to research to find more information.
Encourage them to generate new ideas and evaluate these based on criteria to help them work iteratively and design meaningful solutions to the problem posed.
They can develop their ideas by presenting their ideas to another group, to seek feedback. They should check back to their cards to make sure they are staying focused to their person, need or technology.
Teachers can support this process using the Teachers notes below.
Decide which activity type you would like your class (or individual groups) to work on and deliver back at the end of the activity:
Literacy/Science as a Human Endeavour – write a Science Fiction story or film script set in the year 2099 that explores their unique question, incorporating their ‘Person+Technology’ cards as a starting point.
Science inquiry skills – use a design thinking approach to design a prototype that offers a solution to their unique question, using the ‘Person+Need’ cards in the year 2099.
Digital technology – build a Minecraft world that represents our world in 2099 to explore their unique question, using their ‘Technology+Need’ cards as inspiration.
Each group presents their final output back to class, including highlighting some key steps along the process that they identify as helping to define their final product. Their final presentation can be in the format of an animation, video, prototype or other format you have worked with them in.
1 of 3 Collaborative approach to innovation
2 of 3 Curious young minds
3 of 3 Exploring ways to present data
1 of 3
Collaborative approach to innovation
Something everybody needs
Ask students: What will we eat in the future? How will it be made? How will it be transported to the people who need it?
Students can apply their learning on food and fibre to this option, looking at creative and innovative ways to design products, services or environments that will enable food production. They can consider planning a system, using different materials or designing a solution for their future world.
Ask students: What will we wear in the future? What will the environment be like? What types of materials could we make our clothes out of?
Students can apply their learning on food and fibre to this option, looking at creative and innovative ways to design products, services or materials that can be used to create clothing in the future. They should consider the environment we will need to dress for, as well as how to use new or different fibre sources.
Ask students: What will be the main method of transport in the future? How could you make it safer? How could you make it more environmentally-friendly?
Students can explore modes of transport and the association consumption of renewable and non-renewable fuel sources. They can approach this creatively and/or critically to associate classroom learnings from Design & Technologies, HASS or Earth & Environmental Science.
Ask students: How will lessons be taught in the school of the future? How will you get to school? How will you learn? What technologies will be available? What won’t change?
Using their understanding of the roles of people in design and technology occupations, students can turn to the school environment around them for inspiration. They can consider how to address competing factors in the design process, looking through social, ethical and sustainability lenses.
A robot is a mechanical device that can be programmed to follow a set of instructions. Robots are capable of sensing the environment, carrying out computations to make decisions, and performing actions in the real world.
Some robots are designed to carry out repetitive tasks and so are primarily a mechanical tool, but some are programmed to be more autonomous in how they think and respond to situations. Sometimes they have artificial intelligence, which is the ability of machines to mimic human capabilities in a way that we would consider ‘smart’.
First well-known robot: 1954 – designed by George Devol and called the Unimate.
A hyperloop is a proposed mode of passenger and/or freight transportation, that is made of a sealed tube or system of tubes through which a pod may travel free of air resistance or friction.
Hyperloops move people or objects at high speed while being very efficient, thereby drastically reducing travel times over medium-range distances.
Historically, developments in high-speed rail have been impeded by the difficulties in managing friction and air resistance, both of which become substantial when vehicles approach high speeds. The hyperloop concept resolves this by reducing the air pressure.
Nanosciecne and nanotechnology are the study and application of ‘extremely small things’.
To get an idea of the units of measure involved: where a centimetre is one-hundredth of a metre, a nanometer (nm) is one-billionth of a metre – basically a hundred-thousandth the width of a human hair.
At this size, the physical and chemical properties of matter change – things behave differently. So nanotechnologists look at how to use these properties to create something new or different.
Examples include carbon nanotubes which were discovered in 1991 and have the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any known material and are about 100 times stronger than steel of the same diameter.
Another example is in medical research, where nanotechnology is used to ‘sneak’ DNA cargoes past the body’s defence systems and into cancer cells to help fight the disease.
Nanotechnology is so new, no one is really sure what will come of it but current use suggests it will make materials lighter, stronger, more flexible and able to be used in many new ways.
First known: could go back as far as the 4th Century, without it being described as it is today!
Bionics is the science of constructing artificial systems that have some of the characteristics of living systems. Bionics can be highly advanced pieces of technology, able to be integrated with various parts of the human body.
Bionic limbs are constantly evolving, and the world of bionics now encompasses almost all parts of the human body—external and internal. As technology becomes more and more advanced, we may need to ask questions about what it is to be human.
Over the last decade, we’ve become used to there being ‘an app’ for everything – from tracking your energy consumption to booking an Uber to playing that game that took over your life!
Apps are defined as a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone, tablet, or watch. Often created to make tasks easier or more intuitive, they are more contained and customisable than broader digital environments.
Apps opened up the creativity of what we can do on our mobile devices and have become a part of our everyday lives.
Classic apps: Flappy Bird, Candy Crush, your banking app