ingly interested public as certain knowledge derived through well-established inductive methods. However, scientists and teachers made few efforts to teach students about these methods. High school and undergraduate science courses, like those in history and other subjects, were taught through lectures and textbooks, followed by rote memorization and recitation (Rudolph, 2005). Lecturers emphasized student knowledge of the facts, and science laboratories were not yet accepted as part of higher education. For example, when Benjamin Silliman set up the first chemistry laboratory at Yale in 1847, he paid rent to the college for use of the building and equipped it at his own expense (Whitman, 1898, p. 201). Few students were allowed into these laboratories, which were reserved for scientists’ research, although some apparatus from the laboratory was occasionally brought into the lecture room for demonstrations.
During the 1880s, the situation changed rapidly. Influenced by the example of chemist Justus von Liebig in Germany, leading American universities embraced the German model. In this model, laboratories played a central role as the setting for faculty research and for advanced scientific study by students. Johns Hopkins University established itself as a research institution with student laboratories. Other leading colleges and universities followed suit, and high schools—which were just being established as educational institutions—soon began to create student science laboratories as well.
The primary goal of these early high school laboratories was to prepare students for higher science education in college and university laboratories. The National Education Association produced an influential report noting the “absolute necessity of laboratory work” in the high school science curriculum (National Education Association, 1894) in order to prepare students for undergraduate science studies. As demand for secondary school teachers trained in laboratory methods grew, colleges and universities began offering summer laboratory courses for teachers. In 1895, a zoology professor at Brown University described “large and increasing attendance at our summer schools,” which focused on the dissection of cats and other animals (Bump, 1895, p. 260).
In these early years, American educators emphasized the theoretical, disciplinary goals of science education in order to prepare graduates for further science education. Because of this emphasis, high schools quickly embraced a detailed list of 40 physics experiments published by Harvard instructor Edwin Hall (Harvard University, 1889). The list outlined the experiments, procedures, and equipment necessary to successfully complete all 40 experiments as a condition of admission to study physics at Harvard. Scientific supply companies began selling complete sets of the required equipment to schools and successful completion of the exercises was soon required for admission to study physics at other colleges and universities (Rudolph, 2005).