A Role for Historical Experiments: Capturing the Spirit of the Itinerant Lecturers of the 18th Century
Gerald Rutherford (1964), one of the original authors of the Harvard Project Physics course which emphasized the history of science, expressed a view of inquiry which advocated the historical re-constructions of significant experiments. To implement this view we examine two modes of historical re-constructions; Heering's ( Paper presented at the Itinerant Physicists of the 17th century Conference, Pognana, Italy, June 1-6, 2003) replication method for historical experiments and our development of historical representations. Heering describes the replication method in three phases: the construction of the apparatus, the recreation of the experimental procedure, and the contextualisation of the experience. In our adaption of this process for the science classroom we recognize teachers have limited access to methods and resources in historiography. Consequently, the historical re-construction is guided by a historical narrative. As it relates to a historical experiment the narrative has four parts; Introduction, Experimental design, Experimental results, and Analysis.