How can we design alien creatures for science fiction movies so they are believable?
Sci-fi films often include planets that have biomes similar to Earth and show alien animals that represent different levels of the food chain. In many cases, these creatures are not well adapted to their environment or their place in the food chain. In this project, students design appropriately adapted alien animals for design studios or filmmakers to use in future sci-fi films.
Student teams learn about biomes of Earth, animal adaptations, food chains, food webs, and how genes in DNA give rise to traits through protein synthesis. Each team chooses one biome, and each team member creates an alien animal that represents one role in the food chain (herbivore, predator, apex predator, scavenger). Students consider how their creatures are adapted for survival in the physical environment and explore the food chain relationships between the team’s creatures. Then, using what they learned about protein synthesis, students identify the genes in their alien animals that inform the creature’s appearance.
Students contact filmmakers and design firms to share their work, providing links to their alien animal design website. Then, students showcase their designs in a gallery-like setting with invited guests.