How to use Foldscope in the History Classroom

Two History teachers from Maharashtra, India had Foldscope and they wanted to use it in their class. I’m writing this post to explain how history and science education are similar and how tools like Foldscope needed in history and science classrooms.

I’m using task used in the following video by Young Historians as an example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAwfZbrdA1Q

A history teacher can collect different objects or if possible can take a group of students to an abandoned place and ask them to examine objects presented by the teacher or the place. In above video, the teacher presents few objects saying that he found them in an old, abandoned house. He then asks students to examine those objects to find out how old those objects are, who must have lived in that house, how many members, what must have been their profession etc. He gave them 10 minutes to observe and record. Then each group presented their findings with an argument supporting their findings. Other students asked questions and critiqued. Through this activity, history teacher tried to show his students how historians study history.

I think if students had tools like Foldscope, they could have done detailed observations and even done some simple experiments to test their hypothesis about objects like real practising historians. Both historians and scientist do experiments to test hypothesis. For example, historians often use a microscope to examine pottery and find its date or examine microscopic patterns on objects to find out how those objects were made or used.

At the end of this kind of activity, students will understand how history is studied and how the descriptions they read in textbooks was written.

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Dear Edurafi,
    What an absolutely wonderful post. The discussions with the teachers were really enlightening – and the video you linked is an absolutely fantastic example. The reasoning in that video could possibly be applied to so many subjects – I could not stop watching the same. It was truly detective work.

    Let’s find some old objects and make a real example of using foldscope for the same. It would be such a wonderful example.

    Laks: can you pass this to the professor from archeology you had introduced foldscope in our guhawati workshop.

    Cheers
    Manu

    1. edurafi says:

      Dear @Manu,

      Entire ‘Young Historians’ series is good. I will post the remaining videos. Then we can discuss and discuss activities using Foldscope.

      Some ideas:

      1. In this study- http://www.pnas.org/content/111/37/13301.full archaeologist used a microscope to determine whether those engravings on the rock were made by human species and how they were made.

      2. I last few days I have been looking at lines drawn by different types of pens and it seems that they all look different under Foldscope. With practice, you can determine what type of pen was used to write something on a piece of paper.

      3. Archaeologist use pollens trapped inside animal droppings to find out local vegetation in the area.

  2. laksiyer says:

    @Edurafi.. I must have watched this video a few times by now. I love the way it has been made. Indeed there is a role for microscopy in historical studies. The study of microfossils for example throws light on the age of a particular sediment. Further there are microscopic features that might give away the nature of the composition of the substance used to make a device. I shall pass this on to Sukanya Sharma and also an archaeologist in Univ. of Mumbai, Dr. Kurush Dalal. If you want to contact them, let me know.

    1. edurafi says:

      @Laksiyer please connect me to Sukanya and Dr Kurush. We can develop few activities for history classroom using foldscope

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