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Science Fiction Short Stories for High School

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/17/2012

These short stories make excellent reading and teaching moments in a high school classroom. Explore science fiction by Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and other great writers.

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    Great teachers teach great short stories. These science fiction short stories by Ray Bradbury and other great writers will get you off to a great start.

    1. "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury: For those looking for a completely automated house, one that cooks breakfast, reminds you of important dates, and reads books, you've found it in "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury. There's one problem: the house is in the future and all human beings are dead.
      • Lesson Idea - Focus on the elements of setting. List specific details that contribute to the futuristic setting.
      • Lesson Idea - Use "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury as a creative writing prompt. Instruct students to write about what happened to the people who lived in the house or write about a typical day in the house before the nuclear disaster.
    2. "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury: Just thought you'd go out for a stroll, did you? Your little stroll will put you in jail, you social deviant.
    3. "The Machine that Won the War" by Isaac Asimov: It's the future (you probably already knew that since it is, after all, science fiction). The war is over. Earth won. Thanks be to the almighty machine that won the war. You'll be surprised what that machine is.
      • Lesson Idea: "The Machine that Won the War" abounds with irony. Adapt this lesson plan for teaching irony in Romeo and Juliet to teach Asimov's short story.
      • Lesson Idea: Take a cross-curricular approach (this will so impress your administrator). After you complete the story, determine the probability of making the right decision by flipping a coin x number of times. Use the following formula to determine the probability of coin flips: Desired outcome = 1/2 ↑number of coin flips. For example, getting the correct result from a coin flip 3 times would be 1/ 2 x 2 x 2 or 1/8 or 12.5%. The probability of getting the correct result from a coin flip 6 times would be 1/2x2x2x2x2x2 or 1/64, less than 2%.
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    More Options

    1. "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut: Finally, everyone is equal. Big government has finally gotten it's way. A Utopia? Think again.
      • Lesson Idea - Discuss political trends and discuss whether or not they could lead to Vonnegut's world in "Harrison Bergeron." Examples include socialized medicine, economic stimulus plans, social security, government bailouts, high taxation. Assess based on reason and logic, not whether or not you agree politically.
      • Lesson Idea: Analyze Vonnegut's humor with this lesson plan.
    2. "By the Waters of Babylon" by Stephen Vincent Benet: John must travel to the forbidden land to gain knowledge and become a priest. He discovers more than he thought possible.
      • Lesson Idea - Teach setting and sensory detail using the above lesson plan for "The Pedestrian."
      • Lesson Idea - Discuss the role of religion in culture. List examples of how religion unites a community. Find historic examples of people using religion for personal gain.
    3. "Rapaccini's Daughter" by Nathanial Hawthorne - Hawthorne examines the dangers of science and medicine.
      • Lesson Idea - Use "Rapaccini's Daughter" to teach American Romanticism. Have students identify and list elements of Romanticism.
      • Lesson Idea - For advanced students--create an original story, imitating Hawthorne's style.