In honor of Sir Patrick Stewart’s (aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard) birthday this month, we would love to share my family’s love of Star Trek with you. Everyone who knows us knows we are complete Trekkies. My son actually wants to be a scientist because of Star Trek. Did you know that hundreds of engineers and scientists proudly proclaim that their career choices were influenced by Star Trek. How many tv shows can claim that kind of success and influence??
Inspired by Trek
The big wigs at NASA, for many decades, have been Star Trek fans. NASA’s first shuttle was actually named the Enterprise, in honor of Star Trek’s quintessential Starship Enterprise. Star Trek even influenced astronauts. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, was a huge fan! The creators of the cell phone, personal computer, MRI scanner, tablet, automatic sliding doors, and Bluetooth were all inspired by Star Trek. Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone, developed it after watching Star Trek and thinking to himself, “We need to communicate the way they do on Star Trek.”
To Boldly Go
Warp Drive a Reality?
The fictional system that enables starships to go faster than light is currently being investigated by a group of physicists. Even if this system never does become a reality, it has helped to spark a world-wide interest in physics.
This is closer to becoming a reality than warp drive. The US government is close to creating a handheld tool that can provide instant patient vital stats from 40 feet away.
Even closer to becoming a reality to the public is the painless, needle-less injections used by every doctor on Star Trek. The “Jet Injector” is used for vaccinations by governments and other agencies around the world.
Cloaking?? For real??
Researchers at the University of California used a mixture of several materials including Teflon, ceramic, and fiber to deflect light waves around an object. This deflection of light truly cloaked the object from sight. It is a start!
Physicists in Australia have developed a device that can actually transport small super small particles over 5 feet. Transport. As in not touching them with any object other than light beams.
A German professor has created the world’s first automatic language translator. This software will allow students all over the world to listen to lectures in any language.
And the coolest thing yet…a full-functioning Enterprise
An engineer and Star Trek buff has an entire website devoted to the claim that within 20 years we could build a starship that would not only make it to Mars in only 90 days, but house up to 1000 people in a comfortable indoor-Earth like atmosphere. The thoroughly researched specs, plans and schedules can be found at buildtheenterprise.org
Star Trek for Homeschooling
- Learn the vocabulary of Star Trek. I’ve created a Trekkie vocabulary list for you, as well as a special printable to help your kids learn each word.
- Study an inventor!
- Read The Physics of Star Trek together
- Star Trek Book of Opposites, for toddlers.
- Work through a homeschool Physics curriculum. We are currently using Christian Kids Explore Physics And LOVE it.
- Another great physics program is from Elemental Science.
- For the math whizzes, you could try calculating how many Tribbles you would have after so many days of multiplying. One Tribble gives birth to 10 baby Tribbles every 12 hours!
- Help out real-live scientists with their projects on Zooniverse. Your kids can help find planets around stars, chart the craters of our moon, and more.
If you are a Netflix subscriber, you can watch all the episodes from all 5 series (The Original, Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise) online via instant watch. They even have the (horrible) animated series available.
Star Trek and History
If you think the idea of using Star Trek episodes to teach history sounds odd, you’re right. Let’s face it: while it is a fabulous genre, and one of my favorite TV shows of all time, it’s not exactly famous for its historical accuracy. But wait. How do you know that? I’ll tell you how. Because you’ve studied history and can pick out the flaws, and that’s a great skill to have, one that we need to pass on to our children. Then again, there are certain episodes that challenge our thinking about historical events. There make for great conversation starters and can even lead to more research, debate, etc. How great is that? Best of all, some episodes are just plain fun and make great introductions into period, event, or series of events. With history, getting the student interested is often half the battle.
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