Science in the Shape of Story

Tell It Like a Story: science education through stories.

TLA workshop e-handouts

Learn how folktales about nature hold attention, teach content, and inspire curiosity to know more. Science information shaped into "fact-tales" likewise can make complicated ideas easy to remember, and help students recognize the meanings in masses of facts. You will practice how to shape your own new "fact-tales" and leave with resources for finding more.

Full day intensive

In the morning we learn traditional folktales which teach key science lessons, and we analyze how story structure & style contribute to their effectiveness. Afternoon: we apply folklore structure & style to retelling true science episodes from magazines, newspaper clippings, etc. Everyone leaves with a handful of effective ready-to-tell stories, and the skills for finding/crafting more. Since Fran's specialty is Biology, most of the examples will come from that field. NOTE: a 90-120 minute version of this workshop is also available for conferences.

Educational research says that before students can genuinely incorporate scientific explanations of natural phenomena, they must acknowledge and reevaluate the intuitive understandings which have served them well enough since infancy: the earth is flat, the sun moves, our bodies are a skin filled with undifferentiated "innards", etc. Ancient myths and legends about celestial bodies, weather, or geological features provide a rich source of fascinating stories which bring primitive assumptions out into the open for discussion without stigmatizing students' beliefs as dumb or infantile. Stories can also vividly implant information about natural phenomena (the moon's changing phases, wild animals' body forms and habitats), well known to our ancestors but often unfamiliar to students: they don't need a scientific explanation until they realize that the phenomenon exists.