The first ever “Science Meets Fiction” contest was proposed by members of the College of Science and Engineering. One of the goals of the contest is to help make science students better communicators and creative thinkers, said Curt Rode, director of the New Media Writing Center.
“With the science fiction contest, the motivation from the College of Science and Engineering was trying to bring scientific principles to a larger audience,” Rode said. “To take it out of the classroom, out of the laboratory, and talk about scientific principles in a way that’s going to be more accessible to nonscientists.”
The parameters of the contest encouraged students to depict “possible futures as it explores the impact of science and technology.”
In addition to the new science fiction contest, the journal also sponsored its “Contemplative Poetry” contest for the second year. Both were open to all majors.
Of the eight total submissions, only three were English or writing majors.
“The mission of the journal itself is to showcase the creative talent at TCU, wherever it may be,” Rode said. “A lot of people in certain majors may not think of themselves as being creative…but we have ample evidence to suggest that there’s unique work being done by people of all majors.”
Giving students the opportunity to write creatively has also been shown to improve their test scores, particularly in English and writing.
In 2014, Pamukkale University in Turkey examined how creative writing helped students improve their communication skills and boosted test scores.
The study group of seventh-grade students was put through a four-week creative writing program. The students took an achievement test both before and after.
The study found that the students’ mean test scores improved significantly after being exposed to creative writing.
The students’ dispositions also increased. This means that they felt more confident and passionate about their ability to write and communicate following the experiment.
TCU has implemented this same mindset by encouraging all students to participate in creative writing contests.
“For me and for a lot of people, writing is an act of clarification and discovery. You sort of realize things you didn’t think you knew by writing,” Rode said.