Ancient Science Teacher's Guide

Ancient Science Guide

One approach is to reconstruct what Aristotle did: have the students make careful observations of some animal or some group of plants, or of a lot of different plants, and then try to classify them and give their reasons for sorting them the way they have. This is a good group project, because students may disagree about how to classify things, which could lead to some valuable discussion.

About medicine, it is interesting to ask the students to think if they have had any of the diseases that children commonly died of in the ancient world, so they can see why infant mortality was so high then. Anyone who has had appendicitis, for example, would be dead if they lived in ancient Rome. Or a Caesarian birth... (You have to be careful not to embarrass anyone though). The ones who think they would still be alive can raise their hands at the end to be counted.

This is also a good chance to work on logic puzzles, and introduce ideas such as the syllogism. Students may want to see if they can come up with their own geometrical proofs of some standard mathematical ideas (you will find more examples in any text of Euclid), like the angles of an equilateral triangle all being the same, or the Pythagorean Theorem.

We also have suggestions for some physics work like building a Roman arch, or making a Chinese compass.

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