Make history digital. This was the assignment given to students in Redeemer’s History of Science class. They took on the challenge. One group presented a claymation video that explains the history of analytical chemistry’s take on matter. Another shared a silent film-styled YouTube video that narrates the discovery of how blood flows from the heart.
Digitizing history encourages students to blend the academic and the creative, making their topic of study approachable and accessible to the public. “There is an entire field of public history opened up by incorporating digital media in the history classroom,” reflects Dr. Deanne van Tol, assistant professor of history. “Thinking about museums and online exhibits, for example: what histories are told in these spaces, how are they told and why? What impact does this have on the way people think about the past?”
“Incorporating the digital into my pedagogy gives me new ways of presenting to students the art of asking questions.”
Student Anna Marie Benjamins chose claymation as her medium. In doing so, she captured the beauty that can be found in something as technical as the history of analytical chemistry. “As I delved deeper into my science courses, I saw beauty in the colours of the different elements in chemistry class and the movement of light in physics. I realized that I could still be an artist as a scientist.” Benjamins also worked to make the history of analytical chemistry interactive. On the day she presented her project to the class, Benjamins brought in clay for her classmates and created a photo gallery of their creations.
Through projects like Benjamins’s, van Tol encourages her students to practice the art of communication as the point where science and humanities meet. “I’m so excited about what incorporating digital strategies in the classroom makes possible for students,” she says. “For me, incorporating the digital into my pedagogy gives me new ways of presenting to students the art of asking questions.” Students learn to see history’s impact and to communicate their findings through emerging platforms. With these skills, they’re ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.