Apparatus and Epistemology: The Material Dimensions of the Science Classroom in the 1960s
John Rudolph

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin, Madison

Primary Discipline

The relationship between the scientific research community and the public has historically been one fraught with tension and misunderstanding. Since the inception of our modern system of mass education in the United States, school science—the science of the textbook, wall chart, and laboratory—has operated continuously to define for the public just what science is and what it has to offer society as a result. Drawing on recent work in the field of science studies, this project will examine the manner in which one component of school science—classroom laboratory apparatus—has contributed to public perceptions of how science has been practiced in the United States. The project entails the development of a historical case study that will look at the materials developed by both research scientists and commercial scientific supply companies during the flurry of educational-reform activity that followed in the wake of Sputnik. The goal is to see what fundamental notions of knowledge production these “things” embodied and possibly conveyed to students. Through this analysis, I hope to contribute to a greater understanding of the larger question of how school science serves to mediate the relationship between science and the public.
About John Rudolph

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