Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Why Scientists Write

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Why Scientists Write

Article excerpt

Scientists write for many reasons: to record their methods and results, to communicate with other scientists, to contribute to scientific discourse, or to inform a wider audience. Scientific writings are especially powerful when they reveal personal and professional relationships.

Depending on the particular content, audience, and purpose, scientists might use plain text or graphic elements such as maps, charts, or drawings. Exploring the various ways that scientists communicate can offer students insights into their thinking and personalities.

For example, Alexander Graham Bell was only 29 when he invented the telephone in 1876. That early success afforded him the freedom to pursue his many other interests that spanned the sciences and other disciplines, including genetics, educating the deaf, and aeronautics.

Students can see the breadth of his curiosity and ingenuity reflected in his correspondence, much of which is available online from the Library of Congress. He reported his work not only in notebooks and letters but also in the Beinn Bhreagh Recorder, a publication he created--and named for his estate and laboratory in Nova Scotia--to cover the progress of his various scientific research projects.

Bell often wrote letters to his wife, Mabel Hubbard Bell, about his scientific discoveries. In May 1917, years after his success inventing the telephone, he wrote to her from his laboratory, describing an experiment with reflecting light under water. …

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