Introduction and Rationale

 

This website is primarily for teachers. It provides standards-aligned resources that make it easier to bring the history of science into a classroom. This site focuses on physics standards likely to be found in an introductory physical science class.

"In learning science, students need to understand that science reflects its history and is an ongoing, changing enterprise."

Excerpt from National Science Education Standards, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, 1996.


"For science to be perceived as alive with possibilities and not simply as a static body of irrelevant knowledge, accomplished science teachers know their students need regular exposure to the human contexts of science—to stories from the past about the struggles, setbacks, and triumphs of individuals and teams of investigators in their quest for deeper understanding of the natural world."

Excerpt from NBPTS Adolescence and Young Adulthood Science Standards, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1997 (First Edition).


Science is a work in progress. It is filled with stories, colorful characters, miscues, triumphs, and unlikely sources of inspiration. Using this vibrant history in the classroom is a way to engage students in both the understanding of content and the broader issue of the nature of science. Introducing students to this “hidden side” of physics can help them understand that

  • scientists are just people like themselves;
  • science has social, economic, and cultural contexts, and that these shape the paths of discovery and acceptance of scientific ideas;
  • there is no single way to do science—it is a mish-mash of inspiration and hypotheses from many sources; it is not all about the scientific method;
  • discoveries can often take a long time, and an even longer time before people accept them;
  • scientists make mistakes like anyone else; and
  • all different kinds of people have and can become scientists.


This site contains specific resources and suggestions for how the history of science might be integrated into a classroom using the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as a guide. Although the NGSS does not address the history of science per se, all of the core ideas and concepts delineated in these standards are the result of research carried out by scientists throughout the history of the discipline. Major breakthroughs in understanding phenomena in the natural world are the culmination of many experiments, theories, and investigations upon which scientific understandings are built.

This site is NOT an exhaustive account of the history of science or any specific scientific discipline; such an undertaking is well beyond its scope. The approach taken in presenting the historical entries emphasizes the timeless and human qualities of science (e.g., there are no dates in the biographical entries, although this information is only a click away). Thus, this site provides the teacher with ways to enliven and deepen particular parts of a physical-science curriculum using content from the history of science. The match between history-of-science content and physical-science content is facilitated using well-known standards, while the strategies presented for integrating these topics are novel to this site.

Navigate the site either by clicking on the icons on the home page or using the links in the margin and below:

General Web Resources

Annotated links to general resources about using the history of science in teaching, including some curricula and for general resources about the history of physics.

Aligned History of Science Entries for the Classroom

History of science “entries,” which have been aligned to the McREL standards. For each standard, there are entries relevant to the given content. Each of these entries links to specific suggestions for using a historical figure or event in the classroom, a brief biographical sketch, and annotated links for more information and sidebar topics.


Disclaimer:

The Web resources collected on these pages are not maintained by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC). None of the Web resources are affiliated with or sponsored by EDC. EDC is merely providing the Web resources for informational purposes. EDC cannot guarantee that the Web resources are active or that the content is accurate. As with all Web-based information, links change from time to time. To our knowledge, all links were functional as of January 2010. Please notify Kerry Ouellet at kouellet@edc.org if you experience any problems.

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