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M.A. Vázquez-Manassero1, M.A. Manassero-Mas2, A. Vázquez-Alonso2

1Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (SPAIN)
2University of the Balearic Islands (SPAIN)
This communication explores an innovative interdisciplinary approach for science education through the history of art, which provides a valuable complementary historical context for the history of science (HoS). The innovation of this approach stems from the use of the products of art (painting, graphics, etc.) for teaching science. The accessibility and simplicity of those products might amplify and complement the students’ motivation and attraction toward science.

Further, the approach integrates science and humanities, thus contributing to close the gap between them, and may start a teaching cooperation between art (humanities) and science school subjects. In addition, both art and history are school subjects, so that science and art can complement each other interdisciplinary in school education, in this case, to try to enhance the innovation of HoS within scientific education with the history of art (Milne, 2011).

The innovative approach is contextualized here within the case of Galileo's telescope, which provides additional issues on the nature of science, such as the relationships between science and technology (scientific instrumentation) and the general interactions among science, technology and society.

This contribution highlights art as a faithful witness at the dawn of science. Modern historians have suggested that the telescope invention was probably a long and depersonalized process, where many people were involved to develop an optical toy (Dupré, 2010). Galileo’s telescope was based on the craft of lens construction developed along the previous centuries. Galileo counted on the collaboration of the Venetians and Florentine glassmakers to create the lenses for his telescopes. Artistic iconography on scientific themes illustrates and demonstrates the link between the history of science and the history of art, and more extensively the general science, technology and society interactions.

The contemporary arts of Galileo acted as authentic divulgation means to communicate the Galilean science to the public in their artworks. A presentation of the set of artworks will be displayed at the Conference: Galileo’s portrait, a first sketch of a telescope, Galileo’s telescopes, technical features of Galileo’s telescopes, Galileo’s drawings, and several artworks by Ribera, Vinckboons, Pieter Paul Rubens, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Elsheimer, Scheffler, etc.

The history of Galileo's telescope through visual and aesthetical artworks raises several crucial issues to the history and nature of science and technology, worth for science education. Finally, a short didactic design is outlined.

[1] Dupré, S. (2010). William Bourne’s invention. Projecting a telescope and optical speculation in Elizabethan England. In A. Van Helden, S. Dupré, R. Van Gent & H. Zuidervaart (Eds.), The origins of the telescope (pp. 129-146). Amsterdam: KNAW Press.
[2] Milne, C. (2011). The Invention of science: Why History of Science matters for the classroom. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.