Teaching Science through History

Steam, Work and Energy

by Paolo Brenni, Anna Giatti & Silvana Barbacci,

This case study follows the development that began with first steam engines (Savery, Newcomen and Watt), continued with theories on the nature of heat through to the early foundations of thermodynamics by Carnot, Joule and others. Resources include online videos of apparatus from the collection of the Fondazione Scienza e Tecnica in Florence, Italy: the Tyndall apparatus, the fire piston, the Joule apparatus, the Puluj apparatus, Watt's steam engine and the horizontal cylinder steam engine, and Prony's dynamometric brake.

NOS features include:

  • cultural (esp. economic) contexts of science
  • technological contexts of scientific discovery
  • scientific contexts of technological development

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