Michaelmas Term 2022 HAPP Seminar: From Awe to Experience, from Artefacts to Edufacts? On the Post-War Revolution in the Objects of Science Communication

For centuries laboratory apparatus was adapted into teaching gear, and both museum and school collections were stuffed with long series of scientific instruments in the hope that the study of the best specimens would enlighten the visitor’s scientific understanding until things changed radically in the 1950s. Curriculum reform projects produced new teaching material and media, including demonstration sets, whilst science exhibits were transformed from displaying phenomenal machines to set-ups that allowed the experience of phenomena, as seen in the science centres which emerged in the 1960s. Looking at a number of examples from North America, Germany and Britain which were explicitly designed in the 1960s and 1970s for both formal and informal science education in schools and science centres, I will discuss the extent to which the material culture of post-war teaching devices – or edufacts – meant a break from the long history of scientific instruments, demonstrations and models that had been harnessed since the scientific revolution.