Older science magazines (from the early 1900’s) are replete with articles and photos of unusual inventions and ideas which can be transformed into case studies that elicit active discussions in science classrooms. Magazines like Popular Science and Science and Invention often had articles on proposed scientific inventions, their ‘technology of the future’, that were never successfully produced. We use their proposals as the basis for mini-case studies in physics classes. Ideas like rocket mail, houses powered by radium, and jumping over Niagara Falls in the family sedan were all proposed in the first half of the 20th century. Determining whether or not the proposals were scientifically viable makes for engaging physics activities. In addition, students can look at aspects other than the pure science: the proposed idea might be scientifically feasible, but would it be prohibitively expensive or damage the environment or the users? Additionally, students can explore how historically the ideas might have made sense (e.g. a radium house in 1900 would have been thought of differently than it is now). In this talk we will give participants ideas of where to find free articles, work through several case studies, and give examples of many others.
Attendees will learn ways to implement case studies based on historical scientific innovations.
Todd Brown (University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg: Greensburg, PA)