The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Book Info

Grade Level
Middle School, High School
STEM Concepts
Astronomy, Broadcast Engineering, Journalism, Microbiology, Physics, Planetary Science, Psychology, Alien Life, Space Travel

The War of the Worlds H.G. Wells’s classic tale of alien invasion. This often-adapted novel tells the story of human kind’s first contact with an alien race and the destruction that results. STEM Read encourages you to read the novel and listen to the panic-inducing 1938 radio adaptation by Orson Welles.

We worked with Northern Public Radio and school and library groups to create our own modern-day adaptation. The Martians have landed in DeKalb County and they did not come in peace!


STEM Read's War of the Worlds Broadcast

The Martians have landed in DeKalb and they did not come in peace! Throughout the winter, we worked with Northern Public Radio and school and library groups to create our own adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic "The War of the Worlds," in the style of Orson Welles' own 1939 radio adaptation. The DeKalb county community came together to make this collaboratively-created masterpiece!

Heat Rays with Jeremy Benson

STEM Outreach's Jeremy Benson walks us through heat rays and their use in modern science! Jeremy shows us how lasers can use heat to blow things up!

Telling Stories with Sound with WNIJ's Jenna Dooley

WNIJ's Jenna Dooley talks to us about what it's like to tell stories over the air, how she does it, and how great radio still is!

Finding the Right Sound Bite with WNIJ's Sue Stephens

WNIJ's Sue Stephens talks about her love of radio, how radio presents a creative challenge to create a great story, and how sounds effects can make an audio-only story better than video.

Acting for Radio with Retro Reactionaries and Director Kara Wilkins

Kara Wilkins makes old time radio shows and talks about how to create a great story through strong characters, sound effects, and just one's voice. She talks us through how to become a voice actor, and why audio plays are so important to our culture.

Creating Radio Sound Effects with the Retro Reactionaries

Kara demonstrates different machines to create sounds for audio plays. Murdering people, weather, horses, and creaking doors are all easy to make with just a mic and a few everyday items!

The Changing Voices of Radio with WNIJ Reporters

Many of WNIJ's staff talk about the evolution of the voice of radio. The modern day voice is very different than the voice of the famous 1920s and 30s radio shows!

Asking "What if" in H.G. Wells

Lynne M. Thomas, three-time Hugo award-winning author, editor, and podcaster, and curator of rare books and special collections at Northern Illinois University's library, discusses the influence and importance of H.G. Wells to the world of science fiction. Music: "I Don't Like Me Either" by Steve Combs

NIU Observatory's Daniel Stange's Favorite Celestial Body

NIU's own Daniel Stange speaks about his favorite celestial body, Saturn. The beauty of something like Saturn, which is more than hundreds of millions of miles away, can be appreciated easily here on Earth!

Seeing the Planets and Beyond with NIU Observatory's Daniel Stange

Daniel Stange talks to us about the capabilities of NIU's telescope, Mars, the moon, and the Huble Space Telescope!

NIU's Observatory Highlights

A highlights video of most of the topics covered in this series of The War of the Worlds videos.

The Wonders of Mars and H.G. Wells at NIU's Observatory

Daniel Stange, manager of NIU's observatory, speaks about Mars. He takes us through what we know, don't know, and how we came to these conclusions. Terra-forming, water on Mars, and bases on extraterrestrial planets are all topic of conversation in this great video!


Play our Martian Math Mania Game

Determine if your skills are fast enough to outrun the Martians! Use formulas to discover the speed you need or the distance one must go to get to safety. Don’t let the Martians’ black smoke envelop you!



Idea Sparks and Mini Lessons

These questions, prompts, and short activities provide quick ways to inspire interest and explore the STEAM concepts related to the book. Idea Sparks and Mini lessons can also be used for differentiation and to foster new ideas of your own.

Download the Lesson Plan

Amazing Audio Events

On October 30, 1938, an episode titled The War of the Worlds was aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds.  The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated “news bulletins”, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress.  In this ELA, History, and Theater Arts lesson, students will produce a digital audio production for an amazing imaginary event of their own creation.

Download the Lesson Plan

The Telescope’s Tale

The telescope has helped humans both satisfy and whet their curiosity about outer space.  Normally, a biography is about a person.  In this interesting twist, students create a biography or autobiography of the telescope.  The telescope dates back to the very early 1600s so there are plenty of events to choose from when telling this tale.

Download the Lesson Plan

Video Discussion Guide

Watch the videos and then use these questions to facilitate classroom discussions about the topics presented.

Download the Video Discussion Guide.

About the Author

Everything pop culture has taught you has probably come from the works of H.G. Wells, the father of Science Fiction. Alien invasions? Check! Mad scientists playing God? Check! Time machines? Check! Invisible men? Check. Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, England in 1866. He worked as a teacher, historian, journalist, and a novelist and was one of the first writers to incorporate cutting-edge science into fictional works. He also used his fiction to hold a mirror up to society to show both humanity’s strengths and flaws. Other titles by H.G. include The Time MachineThe Invisible Man, and The Shape of Things to Come

Learn more at H.G. Wells Society