Drama for inclusion in science: recognising the role of artisan input

  • XVII IOSTE SYMPOSIUM Science and Technology Education for a P IOSTE


Drama is used to present history and philosophy of chemical discovery, recognising artisan input. It is relatively rare, if at all, to read accounts of the contribution of those other than eminent scientists who have made their contribution to scientific discovery. Nevertheless, it must be the case that they depended on the valuable inputs of artisans of significance. Dramatic licence afforded by the construction of plays provides opportunities to imagine what these inputs could have been, without necessarily implying historical accuracy. Context of the drama: Drawings of Lavoisier’s laboratory provide many indications that it was not the work of one person, given its complexity. Lavoisier required a pneumatic trough to contain the gases he worked with, using mercury as the containing liquid since many of the gases were soluble in water. It contained a shelf, usually immersed, on which to stand the jars upside-down. Lavoisier invited an artisan (carpenter) to build a trough from wood and filled it with mercury. In the morning, he found that the mercury had leaked out during the night as the wood contracted opening up the joints. He found another artisan (a stonemason) to make one from marble, and this did the trick. The play tells the story from the point of view of the carpenter, and incorporates history and philosophy into its telling. The paper provides pedagogical advice on use in classes aged 11-14 years old. Conclusion: The paper will provide evidence of its success based on pupil feedback and project documentation.

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