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Teaching science can often be a very tricky business: concepts, animals, bodily functions, and other difficult matters have to be explained in a more comprehensible manner. Whether it is a planetary system, a species of mammal, or a theory of light, models have always helped teachers to explain science to their students.

The Whipple Museum has a very large collection of teaching models made out of a variety of materials. Some of them show large phenomena on a smaller scale while some others show small phenomena in a larger format so that they can help us understand scientific ideas on a human scale. Use the links below or in the menu to the left to select an article.

Read more at: A Japanese Earthquake Model
Wire model of the motion of a particle during an earthquake.

A Japanese Earthquake Model

This model, made with copper wire, was built by Professor Sekiya to demonstrate the motion of a hypothetical particle of earth during the Japanese earthquake of 1887.

Read more at: Thomas Sopwith's Geological Teaching Models
Selection of wooden geological teaching models

Thomas Sopwith's Geological Teaching Models

This article introduces Thomas Sopwith, maker of geological models, and shows the importance of the relationship between books and teaching models.

Read more at: Wooden Geometric Models Made by George Adams
Selection of wooden geometric models.

Wooden Geometric Models Made by George Adams

In the 18th century, the standard textbook for teaching geometry was Euclid's Elements of Geometry . Sets of 3-dimensional teaching models were designed to help students visualise geometrical ideas more easily than is possible with 2-dimensional images in books.

Read more at: Knitted Interpenetrating Surfaces
mathematical knitted models

Knitted Interpenetrating Surfaces

These strange and colourful objects were literally knitted by the chemist Alexander Crum Brown. They were probably used in his research into the behaviour of perforated surfaces.

Read more at: Modelling Chemistry
Selection of molecules made using the Courtauld Atomic Model Set

Modelling Chemistry

Models allow chemists to visualise structures and solve problems that involve the shape of the molecule. Different model types have been designed to emphasise particular features, and these articles introduce several varieties.

Read more at: Glass Models of Fungi
Detail of glass fungus model

Glass Models of Fungi

Made to help their maker's insomnia, these models are made of glass and are extremely fragile, yet beautiful, objects. Some are models of disease-causing fungi as they appear under the microscope.

Read more at: Dr. Auzoux's Papier-Mâché Models
Papier-mache and plaster model of a May beetle.

Dr. Auzoux's Papier-Mâché Models

Medical student Louis Auzoux was frustrated with the shortage of human corpses available for studying anatomy. Using his own secret papier-mâché mixture he developed 'dissectable' models, which could be used again and again. Later, he also created models of animals and plants. Real corpses or models? As a medical student...

Read more at: Wave Machines
Detail of Powell's machine for demonstrating wave motion

Wave Machines

The nature of light has puzzled people for centuries. Some physicists thought that light travelled like a wave, while others thought that it travelled as a stream of particles shooting through space. Wave machines like this one became a popular way of visualising and explaining waves, and were also used as teaching models...