History of Science: Scientific-Instrument Making

In October, we started a series of posts about the Middle School's History of Science course, in which hands-on experiences integrate inquiry, design thinking, and collaboration. This month, our HOS students are back in the blog with quadrants they made during an astronomy unit.

Quadrants have been used to measure the altitude of stars throughout history, from Ptolemy in Alexandria, to Al-Battānī in Harran, to Tycho Brahe, who used these instruments at Uraniborg (his observatory and alchemy lab on Hven, his personal island off the coast of Denmark). Brahe made giant mural quadrants and the increased size of his instruments increased his observational accuracy. Perhaps a future HOS class will decide to make a giant quadrant on a wall!

On Halloween, HOS students finished their quadrants and sighted the altitude of objects on Bartlett Street. (Your author was in Hufflepuff robes.) Mr. True, of the Math and Science Departments, later had students use these quadrants in his own classes. Interdisciplinary learning happens naturally at Alta Vista!



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