How science fiction worldbuilding supports students’ scientific explanation

Camillia Matuk, Talia Hurwich, Anna Amato

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Creating science fiction can engage both imagination and scientific reasoning. We offer examples of middle school students building science fiction explanations to justify their decisions during a week-long role-playing game (RPG) design workshop. Findings show how worldbuilding—that is, defining the game’s setting, history, and characters—supported students in formulating relevant science questions, integrating various science ideas into complex mechanistic explanations, and articulating and critiquing ideas. They also show the challenges students faced in balancing fiction and science to create credible game worlds; and how differences in participation affected collaborators’ ultimate abilities to explain. We conclude that RPG design has many affordances as a science learning environment, but also particular caveats for formal educators to bear in mind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of FabLearn 2019 - 8th Annual Conference on Maker Education
Subtitle of host publicationWhat Role does Maker Education Play in a World with Growing Social and
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781450362443
StatePublished - Mar 9 2019
EventFabLearn 2019 - 8th Annual Conference on Maker Education, FL 2019 - New York, United States
Duration: Mar 9 2019Mar 10 2019

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


ConferenceFabLearn 2019 - 8th Annual Conference on Maker Education, FL 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York


  • Collaboration
  • Game Design
  • Professional Development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software


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