Two hundred years after the story of Frankenstein was written, Coronado Middle School 8th grade students in Ramona Loiselle’s English class showcased their scientific technological creations, based on themes of the novel, for visitors to the CMS Innovation Lab (iLAB) on Friday, November 3rd.
“When we approach a novel like this (Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus) we approach it for a reason. Why are we reading a book that was written 200 years ago, what’s the reason? What is the big idea? We’re looking for Shelley’s (author Mary Shelley) purpose in this novel and we see that it is in part to warn us about the dangers of science,” explained Loiselle.
In the centuries since the classic horror story was published, scientists and society continue to grapple with the ethics and responsibility of scientific creations. During the weeks they read the novel, students also researched modern scientific advancements such as artificial intelligence, cloning, and location tracking. Then they worked in groups to discuss how creations could grow beyond human control and what that would look like. From those group discussions they created their own Modern Monsters.
“Our monster is a GMO pumpkin. We talked about how the novel warned about tampering with nature. We made our GMO pumpkin a monster with all of the genetic modifications, and then it wages war against the human race,” said Carlos Goya Minvill, of his team’s monster. Minville worked with Chloe Van den Akker, Addison Bayless, and Collin Nork.
Another monster (created by Carter Mondzelewski, Gabby Fichter, Adam Trent and Sadie Watwood) was an ‘Information Stealer’ who gets bigger as it consumes people’s private information from social media. “The social media companies that grow their platforms with better algorithms built this monster,” explained Mondzelewski. “It steals private information and exposes people,” said Fichter.
“I really enjoyed working with the students on this project,” said iLab teacher Laurie Fountain, who facilitated the creation of the monsters. “They had such great insight and ideas. It’s also great to see them using their presentation skills while explaining their creations to our iLab guests,” she added.
A common theme among all the student projects was that the novel warns future generations against recklessness and to be cautious of their technology because things can quickly get out of hand.
Loiselle explained,“We discussed that when the novel was written the Romantics were questioning science and industry versus nature. The students brought up great ideas about what our society is questioning today. These discussions went on for four to five weeks as we read the book. Students brought up ideas and read about things like artificial intelligence, advancements in cloning, and animal versus human cloning. We talked about how human struggles actually produce empathy and whether or not a perfect human would have empathy. We talked about social media bullying and platforms, overpopulation, and genetic modification of food and people. They were great discussions and all related back to the novel.” she said.
Each class at CMS has the opportunity to go to the iLab to work on curriculum related projects. As the iLab teacher, Fountain works in collaboration with classroom teachers to provide the iLab materials and tools to create projects and experiments. She shared that currently each English class is utilizing the iLab for a different purpose related to the Frankenstein novel project, including 2D visual scenes that incorporate light, movement, and sound.
Source: Coronado Unified School District