Learning with Star Trek – Where No One Has Gone Before

learning with star trek

Learning With Star Trek – Where No One Has Gone Before

Are you a Star Trek fan, or do you have one on your hands? We love watching the various TV series and movies (although some are better than others) and learning with Star Trek. This is a great time to add Star Trek to your geek schooling day, since the series has rebooted into new movies over the past several years. Here are all sorts of ways for turning a love of Star Trek into a learning experience. Pull some of them together for a unit study, or pepper your curriculum with Star Trek viewings and activities. (Please note that many of these books and episode suggestions are more suitable for middle school or high school students – use your own discretion).

Science

Websites

Books

  • NASA Scientist and consultant on the Star Trek films, delves into the science of Star Trek in Star Trek: Science Logs.
  • Want to delve deeply into the physics of the Star Trek universe and the real world of physics? Check out a great book, The Physics of Star Trek.
  • Are you studying biology in your homeschool? Include the book, To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek, written by a Harvard neurologist, in your studies. The author also wrote an epilogue to her book on her blog when the 2009 movie came out that is worth reading.

learning with star wars

Episodes & Movies

To explore environmental science in the Star Trek universe, view:

  • Star Trek: TNG Season 5, Episode 25 “The Inner Light”, a fantastic episode where Picard experiences a lifetime first-hand on a now long-dead planet with a dying sun.
  • Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country. The Enterprise has to travel back in time to when humpback whales were not extinct, so they can save their present from destruction due to a mysterious probe.

To explore Genetic engineering in the Star Trek universe (and the resulting ethical dilemmas):

  • In Star Trek: TOS, Season 1, Episode 22, “Space Seed”, the crew come across Khan, a genetically engineered world conqueror and his compatriots from Earth’s past.
  • In Star Trek: DS9, it is revealed that Dr. Bashir is genetically engineered himself in Season 5, Episode 16, “Dr Bashir, I Presume” and he later works with some genetically engineered misfits in Season 6, Episode 9 “Statistical Probabilities”.
  • In Star Trek: TNG, Season 2, Episode 18 “Up the Long Ladder” DNA is forcibly taken from members of the crew so clones can be created by a dying community of cloned people. And in Season 2, Episode 7 “Unnatural Selection”, genetically engineered children cause those in contact with them to rapidly age and die.

Foreign Language

You can’t get more foreign than an out of this world language. Klingon is a fully formed language and many people across the world have learned to speak it fluently.

History

Many Star Trek episodes and movies cover various periods of history and historical characters. Here are some fun ones to watch in your homeschool:

Ancient Greece

Star Trek: The Original Series has Ancient Greek content:

  • Season 2, Episode 2 “Who Mourns for Adonais?” – a powerful being claims to be the Greek god Apollo and demands worship.
  • Season 3, Episode 10 “Plato’s Stepchildren” – the Enterprise meets people who have adopted classical Greek culture and call themselves “Platonions” in honour of Ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

Ancient Rome

In Star Trek: The Original Series, the Enterprise crew encounters a planet that looks a lot like Ancient Rome in Season 2, Episode 25 “Bread and Circuses”.

Leonardo da Vinci

In Star Trek: Voyager, Janeway’s da Vinci holodeck program is featured on Season 4, Episode 11: “Concerning Flight”.

The Old West

Star Trek: TOS Season 3, Episode 11, “Spectre of the Gun,” includes a recreation of the historic 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral.

The 1920s & 30s

The 20s and 30s in Star Trek: The Original series:

  • Journey to the 1920s in Season 2, Episode 17, “A Piece of the Action,” as the Enterprise encounters a planet full of 1920s gangsters.
  • The Season 1, Episode 28, “The City on the Edge of Forever” is set in the 1930s and covers the pacifism movement.

Amelia Earhart

In Star Trek Voyager’s Season 2, Episode 1 “The 37’s,” the crew of Voyager finds Amelia Earhart on a distant planet.

The 1950s/60s

  • Star Trek: TNG’s Season 4, Episode 21 “The Drumhead” is a fantastic episode to watch when studying 1950’s McCarthyism, as a “witch hunt” occurs on the Enterprise.
  • Star Trek: DS9’s, Season 6, Episode 13 is set in the 1950s. It portrays Sisko as a 1950s Science Fiction writer.
  • Studying the 1950-60s civil rights movement? Check out Star Trek: TNG Season 2, Episode “The Measure of a Man,” involving Data’s trial for civil rights.

Literature

Literary works and figures abound in the Star Trek universe.

Shakespeare

Shakespearean quotes are plentiful in the Star Trek universe, which makes learning with Star Trek easy. Here are some episodes to watch which feature the Bard while you’re studying Shakespeare.

  • Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 1 Episode 13, “Conscience of the King” – features a travelling group of Shakespearean actors
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – Shakespeare is copiously quoted throughout the movie, especially by Klingons
    Star Trek: The Next Generation:
  • Season 3, Episode 10, “The Defector” – Data as Henry V
  • Season 6, Episode 1, “Part 2: Time’s Arrow” – The crew practises A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Season 7, Episode 23, “Emergence” – Data as Prospero in The Tempest

If you want to look at every single reference to Shakespeare ever in the Star Trek universe, Bardfilm is the website to visit!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes

Data has a fascination with the character of Sherlock Holmes. There are two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation which deal heavily with Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters:

  • Season 2, Episode 3, “Elementary, Dear Data”
  • Season 6, Episode 12, “Ship in a Bottle”

Mark Twain

Data and company travel to late 18th century earth and meet Mark Twain, author of Huckleberry Finn in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 5, Episode 26, “Time’s Arrow Part 1” and Season 6, Episode 1, “Time’s Arrow Part 2.” Why not watch as part of your studies of Mark Twain’s works?

The Legend of Robin Hood

A fun episode to watch after reading about the legend of Robin Hood. The all powerful character “Q” sends the crew of the Enterprise to Sherwood Forest in Season 4, Episode 20, “Qpid.”

Les Miserables

Sisko is seen as Javert by a character who sees himself as Valjean from Les Miserables in Season 5, Episode 13, “For the Uniform.”

Beowulf

Star Trek: Voyager’s Season 1, Episode 11 “Heroes and Demons” features a Beowulf holonovel.

Architecture

J.J. Abrams, Director of the 2009 Star Trek movie, says the architecture in his movie was inspired by Finnish-American designer Eero Saarinen. Why not watch the movie and then explore Saarinen’s architecture?

Philosophy

The Star Trek universe dealt with many moral and philosophical issues, right from the beginning. To discuss the topics of euthanasia and suicide, watch these two episodes from Star Trek: TNG:

  • Season 5, Episode 16, aptly called “Ethics”. When Worf is seriously injured in an accident, he at first chooses euthanasia, and then decides to undergo experimental surgery instead.
  • Season 4, Episode, “Half a Life” in which a scientist whom Luxawna Troi falls in love with is due to commit suicide according to his culture.

For a discussion on reproductive rights and the sanctity of life, watch Season 2, Episode 1, “The Child,” where Deanna decides to keep her (mystically begotten) child, despite the disapproval of her ship mates.

For a discussion on doing the right thing, watch Season 5, Episode 19, “The First Duty.” Wesley decides what to do during the resulting inquiry when his flight team experiences an accident resulting in death.

Books

learning with star trek

Have you ever done some learning with Star Trek in your homeschool? Are there other Star Trek episodes you would recommend for learning? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love Long &
Prosper,

Kimberly

Science Fiction Books for Kids

science fiction books for kids

Science Fiction Books for Kids

If you’re like me and my Geek Schooling family, you may just find yourselves reading Science fiction books. While our bookshelves tend to be filled with Fantasy titles, you can also find some Sci-Fi among them. If you’re looking for more Science Fiction to read or want to be reminded of some favourites, here are some of ours. (Please note that what is suitable in our home may not be deemed suitable for yours – use your own discretion and/or read the books yourself before offering to your children).

A Wrinkle in Time Series by Madeleine L’Engle

Meg, her brother, and her friend are whisked away to a far off planet to find her father. It’s a strange series, but with such an original plot and characters, it makes for fascinating reading. This series is suggested for ages 10 and up.

Star Wars Novels

You know about the movies, but did you know that there is an extensive series of books that expands the Star Wars universe? Read novels set anywhere from 5000 years before the movies are set to 40 years afterward. Yes, you can even read all about the children of Leia and Han and company, although they don’t match up to the new set of movies. Click on the link above to download The Star Wars Novels Timeline to see all the novels and in which period they are set. There are a number of free titles for Kindle and ePUB (Kobo/Nook), so be sure to do a search for your e-reader. Written by a number of different authors, these books are suggested for ages 12 and up.

The Little Fuzzy Series by H. Beam Piper

It’s a fair assumption that you haven’t heard of this particular author. His novels were out of print for some time and you could only find them by combing through the shelves of used book stores. Piper’s books have recently been reprinted and are now available as ebooks. You can read the first book, Little Fuzzy, free on Kindle. On a planet named Zarathustra, a prospector named Jack comes across cute little ewok-like creatures when the planet is supposed to be devoid of sentient life. Piper’s books are more novella-sized, and are easy and fun to read.

Novels by John Wyndham

John Wyndham is one of the great (often post-apocalyptic) authors of Science Fiction. Here are a couple of my favourite titles:

The Day of the Triffids
In the aftermath of a world stricken blind after an unprecedented meteor shower, a man named Bill Masen finds another lucky person like him, Josella, who has also retained her sight. If a world turned topsy turvy by mass blindness wasn’t enough, they must try to survive attacks by triffids – 7 foot tall plants that can kill. Suggested for ages 13+, it does include some mild swearing.

The Chrysalids
The Chrysalids is set in a post global nuclear war future. It follows a boy named David (10 years old when we first meet him), who, in a society where people who are different are are banished, begins to realize he has a power that makes him different. Probably best for ages 13 and up. This is one of the first Science Fiction books I read when I was 9 years old and I loved it, and it was also a book studied in high school when I was 15.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This series is on our to-read list in our homeschool because so many of our friends have read and loved the books. In a dystopian future, children aged 12-18 are put in a lottery yearly and the “winners” are forced to fight to the death in “The Hunger Games”.

The Books of Ember Series by Jeann DuPrau

This is another series on our to-read list. We enjoyed the movie “The City of Ember“ and are looking forward to reading this series of books. They follow two 12 year olds living in a crumbling city underground, built for when the world above was destroyed.

While many science fiction titles and series can deal with some heavy, sobering material, I find this can often lead to some great discussions with your children.

What are some of your favourite science fiction titles and series in your home? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly