Sci Friday: Short and Sweet "They Might Be Dangerous"

I’ve done a lot of reviews for science fiction here as part of my mission to spread the word about the amazing things this genre can do for the curiosity and critical thinking skills of students - but this is the first time I’m featuring a short story. 

The story, “They Might Be Dangerous” - by Kate Messner, was featured as part of the Scholastic Storyworks series. The story is designed to be read partnered up with a nonfiction piece called “Planet Hunters”. (The links for the pieces and extra resources are at the bottom of the post)

Is there life on other planets? Will we ever meet with it - interact with it? What will that life look like? Will humanity have overcome enough of our prejudice and bias to reach out in friendship to life that evolved on another world? These are the very questions I wrestled with as a child. I can’t even begin to tell you how many drawings, stories, and poems I wrote about alien life in elementary and middle school. Kate’s story is exactly what that younger me would have adored.

It’s short, so I don’t want to give anything away. The link below is to a PDF file that appears to need to be projected and read together as a class. It could make a great read-aloud, so that the students can concentrate on the little clues dropped along the way.

I’m also tempted to tell you NOT to read it before you read it with the kids, but I know you won’t do that. Ah well, the look of surprise and wonder on YOUR face as you get to the ending together would do your students a world of good. Can you fake it? Can you pretend to be surprised?

You could follow up with them inventing their own alien race. Depending on the age and knowledge level of the students, their aliens could be directly tied to knowledge about the world they have chosen, or they could be pure imagination. If they are ready for more challenge, visit the NASA Planet Quest site to read about the discoveries we are making in our search for a "new Earth" every day..

Then visit a Mars Panorama with the Curiosity Rover!
Science is so incredibly amazing!!

“Imagine another life form that’s one percent different from us, in the direction that we are one percent different from the chimps. Think about that — we are one percent different and we’re building the Hubble telescope, go another one percent.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Read more:

Link to PDF of the story to the “Planet Hunters” nonfiction article mentioned.

Link to the supporting documents, including other stories and resources to help you connect the fiction and nonfiction pieces.

Link to NASA's Planet Quest

I'm participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by the amazing educators at Two Writing Teachers. Stop by to see what others are posting!

Also - if you stop by and comment, and you are also slicing - PLEASE feel free to include your URL in the comments. With over 200 people slicing, it is often hard to go find your specific link on the Two Writing Teachers page, and I'd love to come read YOUR slice too!


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