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Teacher/Tutor - Science

History and Nature of Science


This section emphasizes the human aspect of science. It uses history to describe human endeavors as well as the role science has played in the development of various cultures.

Be sure to look at the different set of resources listed at the Student/Learner webpage for this topic.

Screen shot from siteAmerican Institute of Physics History Exhibits
Learn about Madame Curie and radioactivity, the discovery of the electron, Albert Einstein, and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.  In addition, look at “The Human Face of Science” for more biographies about scientists.

Screen shot from siteEinstein Revealed
This NOVA website explores the key points in Albert Einstein’s life and weaves together history and physics. Learners are provided with a timeline, an explanation of the Theory of Relativity, and interactive explorations of time travel and the nature of light. The teachers’ guide is excellent, and it includes these experiments:

"What’s Your Wavelength?"

"Seeing the Invisible"

Screen shot from siteExploring Leonardo
As this website’s Note to Teachers says. Leonardo da Vinci "…was a terrific role model for applying the scientific method creatively in every aspect of life including art and music." Pursue the activities assembled by the Boston Museum of Science and the Science Learning Network. This website has a glossary, a bibliography, and a hotlist of additional websites. Don’t miss "Leonardo’s Mysterious Machinery."

Screen shot from siteFlights of Inspiration
This website looks at the challenge of flight, with resources "for anyone who has an interest in the history of science of flight", though there are sections directed specifically to science teachers. Learners investigate the "First Flight" of Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903, and the "Long Flight" of Alcock and Brown in 1919. Learners are challenged to create their own flight by using the online resources to learn about the forces and challenges of flight. There is an excellent teachers’ guide. This is a Science Learning Network project created by the Franklin Institute Science Museum and the Museum of Science, London.

Screen shot from siteRace for the Superbomb
This website is a companion to the PBS television documentary by the same name, a part of the "The American Experience" series. This website contains an historical timeline of nuclear warfare activities between 1941-1963, links to information about people and events, maps of international bomb test sites, two interesting graphs on nuclear stockpiles and tests, and a teachers’ guide to discussion topics. There are special features, such as a Nuclear Blast Mapper, a "Panic Quiz" from 1953, videos of actual tests, and a virtual tour of an underground bunker.

Screen shot from siteShackleton’s Antarctic Odyssey
Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1916 Endurance expedition is an amazing survival story. This NOVA website has wonderful historical, geographical, scientific, and technological information on Shackleton’s original expedition and its recreation in 1999-2000. There are sections on "Surviving Antarctica" and "Navigating the High Seas". Take a look at two great interactive exhibits, as well:

Screen shot from siteSlates, Slide Rules, and Software –Teaching Math in America
“Throughout American history, teachers and parents have used objects--from colonial--era slates to modern electronic calculators--to help students master abstract mathematical concepts. These math teaching tools reflect society’s hopes and dreams.”  Learn about it from this online exhibit from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

What is science?
Why do so many people enjoy being scientists? Find out the answers to these and other questions by reading the answers from eight scientists. The website contains an interview chart to assist in writing assignments. Additional features include a glossary of terms, an audio portion, and notes to teachers and to learners.

To submit ideas and resources for this section, please contact Susan Cowles.