Nicholas Spicher

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of History of Science and Technology
Johns Hopkins University

2008 to 2009
Dissertation Research Fellow

A Study of the 18th-Century Use and Growth of Scientific Demonstrations in the Context of University Instruction

My research centers on the teaching and learning of science in the 18th century. During this time, not only did the content of natural philosophy shift toward Newtonian physics, but the method by which it was taught changed from verbal lectures to experimental demonstrations. Natural philosophy was not restricted to the classroom; cities in Europe and America developed strong public science cultures in which lecture-demonstrations informed and entertained a wide range of citizens. Colonial Philadelphia was a center of both public science and college-level science. By studying records such as lecture notes and trustees' minutes at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as documents at the American Philosophical Society, I hope to explain how these two realms of education intersected. Read Nick's report on his month's research in Philadelphia collections.