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I wrote my thesis for my M.S. degree in Space Studies on “The Influence of Television and Film on Interest in Space and Science.”
I created a WordPress website for this thesis project, which you may view at TVandScience.wordpress.com.
You may read the pdf of my full written thesis here.
You may also watch my full thesis defense presentation in the video below.
Entertainment media has the great potential to inspire interest in the topics it presents. The purpose of this study is to better understand how entertainment media contributes to people’s interests in space and science. There is a huge variety of science communication topics in previous literature, some of which deals with television and film, but very little that specifically study how television and film can inspire interest. A historical review of pioneers in the space industry shows that many were inspired by entertainment media, which at the time consisted of science fiction novels and magazines.
In order to explore the possible relationships among influences for scientists and non-scientists and to determine specific questions for future research, I created and distributed an anonymous, online survey. The survey is suggestive, exploratory research using a convenience sampling method and is not meant to provide scientifically accurate statistics. 251 participants completed the survey;196 were scientists and 55 were non-scientists. The survey showed that the participants did identify entertainment media as a major influencing factor, on a comparable level as factors such as classes or family members. Participants in space-related fields were influenced by entertainment media more than the participants in other fields were.
I identified several questions for future research, such as: Are people in space-related fields inspired by entertainment media more than other scientists are? Are non-space-related scientists often inspired by space-related media? Do people who regularly watch science fiction tend to be more scientifically literate than average?
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