Frankenstein for Families

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a modern myth, a 200 year-old science-fiction story that explores themes of human creativity, societal responsibility and scientific ethics. What is life? What does it mean to be human? Why do we create? What responsibility do we bear for our inventions? Two centuries after the tale was written, these questions continue to resonate in our technological age. As citizens with access to incredible tools for creation and transformation of the world, we not only need to understand the fundamentals of science and technology, but also to develop the skills to actively participate in the policy discussions that surround these fields. Arizona State University, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, takes on this challenge by pairing Mary Shelley’s compelling story with an integrated set of digital and hands-on activities designed to inspire deeper conversations about scientific and technological creativity and social responsibility. The Transmedia Museum advances new approaches to the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments, across digital and physical platforms: The Frankenstein 200 Experience: An interactive digital narrative incorporating a collection of objects from a broad range of museums, science centers, start-ups and community maker spaces to encourage the development of 21st century skills related to creative collaboration and critical thinking. Frankenstein’s Footlocker: A tabletop kit for museums, science centers, community centers, and other learning hubs that will support creative and making activities, promote reflection on social and ethical issues, and explore emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, robotics, and bioengineering. Frankenstein’s Workbench: A set of at-home maker activities, online challenges, and competitions involving hands-on science and other creative activities. Frankentoy: Create a new creature by mixing and matching parts from different stuffed animals. Should people create new forms of life? Should there be laws that allow or forbid it? Scribbler: Give a scribbler the spark of life using the motor from an electric toothbrush and create a drawing! Are you the artist or is the scribbler the artist? Battery Stack: Mary Shelley was inspired by the invention of the voltaic battery. Make a voltaic battery and learn how a battery works.
Scribbler, science center kit activity, photo by Jeannie Colton