Science Fiction Novel "Paradigm" Helping Science Teachers Inspire Kids to Learn About Climate Change

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The ecological wasteland of the young adult adventure novel, Paradigm, is helping teachers introduce the science of climate change to students, as well as inspire them to research the issues themselves.

Sam Cooper's world in "Paradigm"

Sam Cooper's world in "Paradigm"

Books like "Paradigm" provide a valuable opportunity to engage teens emotionally while teaching them science that will become increasingly important both to them and society at large.

At a time when most books aimed at teenagers provide escapism and hefty doses of romance, Paradigm, by Helen Stringer delivers something more – a view of what the world might be like if we continue to ignore the warnings of scientists about climate change, water shortages, the overuse of antibiotics, and fracking, all wrapped up in a fast-moving story full of adventure, engaging characters, and a cherry red ’68 GTO.

The potential of such a story has not been lost on educators. As one teacher remarked, “Combining literature like 'Paradigm' with science – climate change for example, and even math and history, the nullification of money and moving back to a barter/trade system – creates a synergy between entertainment, education and information and is a highly effective way of getting young people interested in subjects they might not otherwise pursue.”

The approach seems to be working. An Amazon review of "Paradigm" posted by a teen reader explains how she raced through a first reading, then “…I read it again with my laptop open, googling issues like smog, carbon dioxide and ozone effects, global warming and such. It totally opened me up to thinking about the world today and what we're doing to it.”

Stringer’s approach has also met with the approval of experts in the field, including Dr. Ken Caldeira of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institute of Science, who said, "It is critical that today's teens be exposed to the science of climate change, as climate change will shape the world of their adult lives. Books like "Paradigm" provide a valuable opportunity to engage teens emotionally while teaching them science that will become increasingly important both to them and society at large."

Author Helen Stringer admits to doing a lot of research on environmental issues before even putting fingers to keyboard. “I wanted to tell a story that was exciting and fast-paced, but I also wanted the reasons for the collapse of the world we know to be believable and based on things that are happening right now,” she said.

No one was more surprised than Stringer to discover that her book was being used to teach science. “I only found out when I met a teacher who told me that when she saw how excited her students were about the world of 'Paradigm,' she began using it as a way to introduce the kids to some of the implications of climate change and other challenges facing mankind today.”

As one parent of a "Paradigm" fan remarked, “I highly recommend parents read this book with their kids, before their kids, or after their kids … simply because it can generate so many great dinner table discussions and is so relateable to current events happening right now.”

And how does Sam keep his ’68 GTO gassed up as he drives around the future America of "Paradigm?" Stringer thought of that too, and you can find the explanation, along with an unpublished section of the book here.

Watch the "Paradigm" Teaser Trailer here.

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Helen Stringer
since: 06/2009
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Helen Stringer
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