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ERIC Number: EJ1062474
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Feb
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 7
ISSN: ISSN-0826-4805
Sparks and Shocks: Replicas of Historical Instruments in Museum Education
Rhees, David J.
Interchange: A Quarterly Review of Education, v46 n1 p45-56 Feb 2015
This paper discusses the variety of ways in which The Bakken Museum has made use of replicas or simulations of historical instruments and experiments and demonstrations in education programs and exhibits for school children, families with children, and other museum audiences. Early efforts were stimulated in the mid-1980s by a collaboration with Prof. Samuel Devons, who pioneered the use of historical experiments at his "History of Science Laboratory" at Barnard College (Columbia University). This collaboration resulted in a series of summer institutes for high school science teachers which incorporated historical simulations. An "Eighteenth-Century Electricity Kit" aimed at middle schools also was produced. Beginning in the early 1990s, versions of these historically-based instruments and experiments and demonstrations were successfully integrated into school field trip programs and to a degree in school-based outreach programs developed in the late 1990s; topics include static electricity, batteries and bioelectricity, and magnetism/electromagnetism. "Science theater" programs such as puppet shows, first-person interpretations (e.g., Benjamin Franklin, Mary Shelley), and short plays ("War of the Currents") also utilize historical simulations. A new exhibit, "Ben Franklin's Electricity Party", uses classic eighteenth-century electrostatic instruments to engage visitors. These various uses will be analyzed in terms of their effectiveness, the question of historical authenticity, how they compare with similar uses at other museums, and how they are integrated with historical stories.
Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-348-4505; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education; Middle Schools; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Minnesota; New York