A World of Science

story by John O'Brien , illustrated by Craig Phillips

Learning intention:

I am learning to make connections between my own experiences and those of characters and to see how my social and cultural experiences influence my attitudes to settings.

Success criteria: 

  • I can consider how my experiences influence my perceptions of locations.
  • I can analyse a story to see how social and cultural experiences influence attitudes to settings.
  • I can create a travel guide for a location that differs from where I live.


Before reading A World of Science, discuss any visits students have made to places that differ from where they live. This will depend on each individual school context. For example, if the school is in a city discuss times students have visited more rural areas. If the school is in the country discuss visits to cities, coastal areas or the desert.

Inform students that our own experiences and perceptions have an influence on how we view new encounters. Tell students that our opinions are often formed when we compare new experiences with our past encounters (for example one place is busy whereas another is quiet).

Discuss the following:

  • What did you think of the place you visited? (e.g. Did students like or dislike the place and why?)
  • How did it differ from where you live? (For example, was it busier or quieter, was it darker at night or brighter?)
  • How do you think people who live there view the place? (Guide students towards concluding that people who live there probably view the elements that the students found unusual as normal)
  • How do you think someone from somewhere with more extreme features than you experience in your home might view the place, for example how might someone from a busier city such as Beijing view somewhere students thought of as very busy? (e.g. They might view a city such as Sydney as quiet)

Read A World of Science. Discuss the setting (Sydney) and how the narrator views the location, emphasising examples such as:

The streets around me are crowded, but I am not challenged by a single witch or wizard or warlock.

I am heading to school in a bright, coastal city named Sydney. It is a lovely place, and I shiver with delight.

He uses the word ‘peaceful’ to describe the lack of conflict in Sydney.

I love living here in Sydney. I hurry to school, happy at the thought of the coming day.

I will delight my teacher, Mrs Han, with my spidery, elfish handwriting, so very different from Hugo’s messy scribble.

I will play a lovely game called handball at lunchtime with Hugo’s friends Michael, Ahmad and Hoani. I will visit the school library and learn more about Earth.


Discuss the fact Hugo prefers to be in Murlock Grune and that he has gone to great lengths (by finding a back door to the game) to ensure he can stay there. Emphasise that Hugo enjoys the battles in Murlock Grune while the elfish warrior is happy to escape them. Draw students’ attention to the fact that both characters view each of the settings Murlock Grune and Sydney differently due to their perspective.

Inform students that they will be composing a brief travel guide of their experiences, real or imagined, in a place that differs from their home.

Collaboratively compose a travel guide in the form of a brochure promoting Sydney using the elfish warrior’s experiences and interpretations. Discuss headings that might appear in a travel guide, for example:

  • Getting there
  • Things to see and do
  • Atmosphere

A sample answer has been provided.

  • Getting there: travel through the back door created by a computer hacker to spend time in this peaceful city.
  • Things to see and do: visit the coast, attend school, impress the teacher with your handwriting and play handball with some of the locals.
  • Atmosphere: the city is peaceful, free of battles and war. People are friendly, keen to play games at lunchtime.

Discuss what students might include in their own travel guide. If students choose to base their travel guide on somewhere they haven’t visited they can use the following websites for research:

Visit NSW

Visit Canberra

Visit Victoria

South Australia

Discover Tasmania


Northern Territory

Western Australia

Place students in pairs or small groups. Students can also complete this activity independently if they prefer. Allow time for students to complete their travel guide before sharing them with the rest of the students. If any students in the class differ in their perceptions, use these as a discussion point, emphasising how past experiences may have caused the differences in their opinions.