What can readers learn about science from fiction? "Lab Lit: Writing Fiction Based on Real Science," a series of lesson plans designed by the New York Times Learning Lab, has been designed to explore this question and others like it. Interdisciplinary in nature, Lab Lit may be of interest to science and English literature instructors alike. At the heart of this lesson is a 2012 Times essay by Katherine Bouton, in which she discusses "lab lit" - fictional stories that, as a website called LabLit.com puts it - "depicts realistic scientists as central characters and portrays fairly realistic scientific practice or concepts, typically taking place in a realistic - as opposed to speculative or future - world." Examples of lab lit include Ann Patchett's State of Wonder and Barbara Kinsolver's Flight Behavior. The Learning Lab team presents a series of lesson ideas to encourage students to critically consider how science and fiction can inform one another. In one suggested activity, students compose their own fictional stories based on science concepts explored in class. Check out the website for additional ideas and resources.
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