The Leyden Jar – 1745

img_20161022_125847

Home-made Leyden jar (don’t try this at home)

I have reached the key object in my “History of Electricity in 10 Objects”: the Leyden jar. Philosophically, the Layden jar has promoted more electrical thinking than any other object. It was at the heart of the biggest enquiry into the nature of electricity. It has also been the most fun to research and write.

So far, I have made working models of all of the devices in my list. I have done the same with a Leyden jar, but the results were disappointing. I made a particularly small jar and charged it with my temperamental Lego Guericke device. Despite much anxiety, I was not made insensible. I did not faint or bleed at the nose. I was not confined to my bed for a week. I’m not sure I felt anything at all. My bravery, however, is exhausted, so I will not try again. Here is the text…

Continue reading

Imaginary Ice Block Discovered in School Field Causes Writing and Reading

8b1a32fac62559dcda2536d256a87d8f

Giant Ice Block Found in School

The whole of this blog centres on a mean trick (and I feel bad about it), which has produced something special, like pearl accreting around grit. I’m the grit.

Last week my colleagues and I pretended that a giant ice block fell into the school field. We dug a hole, put police tape around it and faked a letter from the local police. We intended it as a stimulus for reading and writing, which it has been, very successfully. We told the children that one of us believed it was an enormous hailstone, while I countered that it was obviously an ice meteorite. We were in role. They believed us. We were very convincing. We took it too far. They still believe it.

So, ignore the dubious heart of this tale. The work is worth it.

Continue reading