A drop of action

9th March 2007 at 00:00
Ages 14 to 16

Having given up history to teach science, I could never resist bringing up a company of eclectic, inspirational and bonkers scientists as props.

Newton was a rich source. A devout woman-hater (his mother left him at two), he spawned vast amounts of ground-breaking research and then lost them in his office for a few years. His feud with Robert Hooke, the self-aggrandising first describer of a "cell", was legendary and entertaining, like a pompous catfight in long wigs. Newton even became a member of Parliament, but said nothing in the House beyond, "Can you close that window?"

Humanising science with past giants brings an empathy and context that most kids respond to. The tragic tale of how Marie Curie, pictured, lost her husband and co-worker, Pierre, under the wheels of a Parisian carriage always raised a laugh - but maybe it was the way I told it.

But they like gory stories. It seems poetic justice to them that the man who invented CFCs and sent us down the road to global warming was struck down with polio. Badly crippled, he invented a mechanised bed that caught him up in its loops and pulleys and strangled him.

Galileo always remained my favourite, though. He was the first scientist to, well, experiment. And despite a row with the Church that usually saw scientists being done extra-crispy at the stake, Galileo held on (it probably helped that his old school chum grew up to be the Pope). As a lesson in sticking to your principles, it worked for me Katy Bloom is professional development leader, National Science Learning Centre

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a TES/ TESS subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


Get Tes online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to Tes online and the Tes app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off Tes Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the Tes online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order today