History opens a new chapter for science

Students from class Newminster Middle School had the fantastic opportunity of seeing books dating all the way back to the 17th century when they visited the Newcastle University Robinson library.
Students from class Newminster Middle School had the fantastic opportunity of seeing books dating all the way back to the 17th century when they visited the Newcastle University Robinson library.

SCIENCE and history came together as children were given rare access to centuries-old books.

Year 8 pupils at Newminster Middle School and Technology College have been working on a project with Newcastle University to make cross-curricular links between the subjects.

And as part of the work they were invited along to its Robinson Library to look at the scientific methods detailed in famous old books, before putting them to the test in the university laboratories.

They saw first editions of books ranging from Darwin to Dickens, but there were two that were particularly used for their experiments, Natural Magick by Italian physicist and playwright John Baptista Porta, which was published in 1658 and includes the first articulate description of a camera obscura, and The Mysteries of Nature and Art by John Bate, which was first printed in 1634 as an encyclopaedic compendium featuring details of water works, instructions on making fireworks and advice on things such as how to write with ink that may not be seen, strange ways of catching fish and birds and remedies for common ailments.

One of the ideas used by the children was to make invisible ink, then develop Bate’s method using modern chemicals.

The visit was hosted by Sara Bird, from the Newcastle Robinson Library.

Newminster Assistant Headteacher Sumeena Razzaqi said: “The students had a fantastic day and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”