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3. Topics: History of Science & Science Education [Prof. Heering & Panusch, Germany]

Start Date:
24. June 2015, 14:00
Finish date:
24. June 2015, 14:45
MESHS - Room 1



Using the History of Scientific Practices in Non-Formal Science Education


Abstract Course

A strong emphasis on implementing historical experiments in educational contexts has been made by the Oldenburg group and subsequently by the Flensburg group. In doing so, reconstructed historical devices were used in order to enable students to experience peculiarities of historical experiments. Some of these experiments were canonical, such as Coulomb’s torsion balance experiment, Rumford’s work on heat radiation. Others were less known such as Thomas Young’s ergometer, a device that is meant to measure the diameter of small objects through diffraction. A common feature so far had been the use of these experiments in formal educational settings – be this at school level or at university level. Recently, we established at a local science center (Phänomenta, see a new temporal exhibition, the so-called electrical salon in which we used experiments from the 18th century history of electricity for a lay audience. In the first part of our presentation, we are going to sketch the concept and the experiments used in this approach. In the second part, we are going to discuss the experiences and the findings we got from an empirical pilot study that has been carried out during the exhibition.



  • Heering, P. (2014). Historical Approaches in German Science Education. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 10(4), 229-235.
  • Heering, P. (2000). Getting Shocks: Teaching Secondary School Physics Through History. Science and Education 9, 363-373.
  • Heering, P., & Höttecke, D. (2014). Historical-Investigative Approaches in Science Teaching. In M. R. Matthews (Ed.), International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching (Vol. 2, pp. 1473-1502). Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Heering, P., & Sichau, C. (2005). Instruments and experiments between the laboratory and the museum. Archives des sciences et compte rendu des séances de la Socièté, 58(2), 97.
  • Klassen, S., & Froese Klassen, C. (2013). Raising Interest in Interest: A Critical Component in Learning Science through Stories and Informal Learning Environments. In P. Heering, S. Klassen & D. Metz (Eds.), Enabling Scientific Understanding through Historical Instruments and Experiments in Formal and Non-Formal Learning Environments (pp. 355–375). Flensburg: Flensburg University Press.
  • Sichau, C. (2000). Practising Helps: Thermodynamics, History, and Experiment. Science and Education, 9, 389-398.


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