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MATERIAL CULTURE OF A SECONDARY SCHOOL

INSTRUMENTS FOR SCIENCE TEACHING

(CULTURA MATERIAL DE UMA ESCOLA SECUNDÁRIA:

INSTRUMENTOS PARA ENSINO DE CIÊNCIAS)

Eurize Caldas Pessanha

UFMS/PPGEdu – University of South Mato Grosso, Program of Postgraduate in Education, Campo Grande – MS, Brazil

eurizep@uol.com.br

Wanderlice da Silva Assis

UFMS/PPGEdu – University of South Mato Grosso, Program of Postgraduate in Education, Campo Grande – MS, Brazil

wndrl.assiss@gmail.com

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Abstract

This text, in the fields of Museology, Material Culture, History of Education and Science, intends to provide a preliminary release of a document and surviving collection of objects found in a Middle School, in Campo Grande, State of Mato Grosso, Brazil. This corresponds to part of a list included in a 1941 report titled “Relatório de Inspeção Prévia” found in the files of that school. The document brings to light lists of Physics, Chemistry and Natural History Laboratory equipment and instruments, such as, for example, analytical and hydrostatic scales and instruments used to demonstrate the falling bodies experiment and photographs of the “Laboratories”. Our hypothesis is that these instruments had been bought to conduct experiments in the laboratories of this school, but we did not find any evidence of this function. As a preliminary report, we point out that the objects carry information, both intrinsic and extrinsic, which has yet to be identified.page1image13848page1image14008page1image14168

Resumo

Este texto se insere nos campos da Museologia, Cultura Material, História da Educação e Ciência e pretende apresenta uma primeira divulgação de um documento e remanescentes de uma coleção de objetos encontrados em uma Escola Secundária na cidade de Campo Grande, que, na época pertencia ao Estado de Mato Grosso. Tanto a coleção quanto o documento fazem parte de uma lista incluída no “Relatório de Inspeção Prévia” de 1941encontrado no arquivo da escola. O

documento inclui uma lista de equipamentos e instrumentos de Física, Química e História Natural, tais como balança hidrostática e instrumentos usados para demonstrar queda de corpos, além, de fotografias com a legenda “Laboratório”. Nossa hipótese é que tais instrumentos foram comprados com a intenção de realizar experimentos no laboratório da escola, mas não foram encontradas evidências dessa função. Como um relatório preliminar, enfatizamos que os objetos carregam informações, tanto intrínsecas quanto extrínsecas, que ainda precisam ser identificadas.

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Introduction 

The documents presented here are privileged sources and have significant attribution (ref. 1). They enable us to transform the evidence found in the material to help reconstruct the history of the curriculum practices of a school institution. The objects exist because they respond to the natural needs of human to preserve and they also respond to a vacuum of our understanding which should be filled. For a better understanding of the objects, we must place them in a larger context, that is, in the material culture of the institution and the period. The material culture has a temporal element that makes it apparently permanent – changes are slow and are not easily discernible. There is also a particular space or place, differentiating one subject from another, and presents cultural elements that can receive or reject other elements from another scientific subject. Changes and exchanges between them are not based on a cause/effect, but are always mediated for multiple interests.

This paper includes the fields of Museology, Material Culture, History of Education and Science Studies and intends to analyse a report written in 1941 titles “Relatório de Inspeção Prévia”. It was found in the files of a school in Campo Grande, in the South of the State of Mato Grosso, Brazil. The document was elaborated and signed by both the Federal inspector and the school principal, and is addressed to the Ministry of Education and Health. Their objective was to request authorization to operate the Lyceum Campograndense, under a “Preliminary Inspection” provision and was to established under prevailing the law of that time (Order of April 15, 1932).

This document was found in a hardcover book 30 cm high with 71 pages. It contains the Data Classification Division of Secondary Education completed with details of the equipment for laboratory and detailed description of the condition of the artifacts. In the detailed list of equipment were included artifacts for teaching the school subjects: Physics, Chemistry and Natural History.

In the second part of the book, a “Previous Inspection of 1941”, Elucidário para Ficha de Classificação, VII Salas especiais e Material didático (Rationale of Rating Form, VII Special Meeting and Educational material), there are indications that photos of Physics, Chemistry of Natural History rooms were included, however, the photos are missing in the document. The list of photographs correspond to the photographs found in the “Relatório de Verificação Prévia de 1956” (Pre-verification Report) reproduced below (ref. 2).

This document lists Physics, Chemistry and Natural History laboratory equipment and instruments (Figs. 1 and 2) such as analytical and hydrostatic scales and instruments used to demonstrate the falling bodies experiment.

Fig. 1  Physics Lab materials list

Fig. 1   Materials List of the Physics Laboratory (ref. 1).

Fig. 2 Chemistry lab materials list

Fig. 2   Materials List of the Chemistry Laboratory (ref. 1)

 

There are also four photographs labeled “Laboratory”. Although identified such as “Laboratories”, for Physics, Chemistry and Natural History, three of them show different angles of the same environment (Figs. 3-5); each one depicts the sets of equipment related to their respective disciplines: a room with cabinets, appliances, glassware, scales, frames with figures of plants and animals, skeleton, human body, rock collections and stuffed animals.

Fig. 3 Chemistry Laboratory (ref. 1).

Fig. 3   Chemistry Laboratory (ref. 1)

Fig. 4 Physics Laboratory (ref. 1).

Fig. 4   Physics Laboratory (ref. 1).

 

Fig. 5 Natural History Laboratory (ref. 1).

Fig. 5   Natural History Laboratory (ref. 1)

 

Some of the objects displayed in the following photographs (Figs. 6-10) are still in a room with white tiles and worktops that looks like a laboratory, but it is now a repository of objects and cabinets.

Fig. 6 a.  Cabinets with reagents.

Fig. 6 a   Cabinets with reagents

Fig. 6 b. Cabinets with reagents.

Fig. 6 b   Cabinets with reagents

 

Fig. 7   Set of laboratory glassware

Fig. 7   Set of laboratory glassware

Fig. 8. Articulated human skeleton in box measuring 2.20 x60.0 x 45.0 cm

Fig. 8   Articulated human skeleton in a wooden box measuring 2.20 x60.0 x 45.0 cm with glass in the front and sides. It has no manufacturer’s data sheet or patrimonial register in the school.

Fig. 9. Analytical balance sensitive to 1 mg

Fig. 9   Analytical balance (unsigned) sensitive to 1 mg measuring 37.0 x 40.0 x 23.0 cm, missing
several parts including the balance arm and the side windows.
It has no manufacturer’s users manual nor is it listed in the school’s register.

 

Conclusion

These documents and objects are traces of the presence of the early laboratory at the school, providing information but also raising questions for new investigative directions, one of them is related to the use of these materials tp support in the school’s curricula. The documents provide, through describing the various scientific instruments located in laboratories, an understand of the curriculum practices of the school in the 1930s and into the early 1940s and thus allows us to reconstruct part of the school’s laboratory history?

This research has an exploratory character based on social and cultural aspects and on the indiciary paradigm used to analyze the scientific instruments that are being inventoried, promoting a comparison between the written records and surviving materials used in science teaching, and seeking to examine the place of these instruments in the school’s teaching approach and objectives of the period.

Taken as basic materials of the school’s laboratories, we found that these instruments seem to be the basis for an education based on experiments and analysis of physical reality using the instruments available in the market. The existence of this set of materials is not in itself, evidence of their use, nor can show how they were used in the curriculum practices. Our hypothesis is that these instruments had been bought to conduct demonstration experiments in the school’s laboratories and perhaps to allow students with first hand experience using them. We pointed out that the objects carry information both intrinsic and extrinsic which has to be identified.

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References

1.   “Inspeção prévia do Liceu Campograndense”, 1941. In E.C. Pessanha, and W.S. Assis,  Arquivos digitalizados da Escola Maria Constança Barros Machado (Campo Grande). (W. S. Assis, Campo Grande, MS, 2011). DVD 4, caixa 10, livro 4.

2.  “Relatório de verificação prévia do Colégio Estadual Campograndense”, 1956. In E.C. Pessanha, and W.S. Assis,  Arquivos digitalizados da Escola Maria Constança Barros Machado (Campo Grande). (W. S. Assis, Campo Grande, MS, 2011). DVD 4, caixa 10, livro 6.