Finding the Science Behind Science Fiction

In this lesson, students will be able to explore the genre of science fiction, while learning more about the science integrated into the plot of the story using nonfiction texts and resources. They first define the science fiction genre and then read and discuss science fiction texts. Next, they conduct research to find science facts that support or dispute the science included in the plot of the science fiction book they read. Students then revisit their definition of the genre and revise based on their reading. Finally, students complete a project that examines the science fiction genre in relation to real-world science concepts and topics. The lesson could be used as an extension or enrichment following a general lesson or unit on genres (i.e., fiction, nonfiction, poetry). However, the use of fiction and nonfiction texts provides a solid foundation for these two genres. Students will be required to identify specific scientific principles and concepts in the literature before conducting their research.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0601.8.3
Recognize the conventions of various literary genres.
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Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will

  • apply information from nonfiction in their literary analyses of science fiction texts. 
  • compare and cross-reference information from science fiction and nonfiction texts. 
  • identify topics to research for factual content. 
  • record factual research information. 
  • write a reflection paper on their topic.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 


  • Students can perform scenes from the science fiction books they have read. Refer to this lesson on Readers Theater.
  • Invite students to read more than one science fiction novel about the same topic (e.g., time travel.) Students can compare the presentation of the travel and related technology in the different novels. Use the Comparison and Contrast Guide to discuss how to write comparison and contrast papers, and then ask students to write papers or journal entries that compare the novels that they have read.

Helpful Hints


  • Students should have a working definition of science fiction. Wikipedia provides additional information about science fiction.
  • Compile text sets with science fiction and nonfiction texts from the booklist. Decide whether the students will be reading novels independently, as a read aloud, or in literature circles. This lesson relies on students having choices for fictional materials, but it can easily be implemented using one text as a read aloud. 
  • Make copies of the Questions to Consider While Reading Science Fiction, Researching the Science in Science Fiction data collection sheet, and Science Fiction Projects. 
  • Test the Venn Diagram on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.


  • Science Fiction Projects 
  • Definition of Science Fiction 
  • Questions to Consider While Reading Science Fiction 
  • Science Fiction Reflection Questions 
  • Researching the Science in Science Fiction 
  • Analyzing Literature 


  • Readers Theatre