10 ways to teach with Star Trek

50 years ago Star Trek premiered on NBC and since then, it has had an incredible impact on society. Many astronauts, scientists, engineers and others have claimed that their careers and life choices have been influenced by the values and themes showcased on the show.

As a geeky parent, we sometimes try to turn our passions into teachable moments especially when it’s already had such a positive impact on our lives.

1. Real life scientists

Share with your children the stories of those scientists who are where they are today because they were 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.”

2. Fiction meets reality

Tell your children the stories of the real-life items that began as fiction in the Star Trek universe and eventually became a reality.

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.

Medical Tricorders? 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.

Hyposprays? 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!

Tractor Beams? 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.

Universal Translator? 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.

3. Language arts

Increase your language skills by learning 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.

Read the whole thing here.

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