3.4 The Scientific Revolution

3. The Time of Regents and Monarchs
4.  Scientific Revolution

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This lesson contains 33 slides, with interactive quizzes, text slides and 1 video.

time-iconLesson duration is: 50 min

Items in this lesson

3. The Time of Regents and Monarchs
4.  Scientific Revolution

Slide 1 - Slide

Slide 2 - Slide

What is this lesson about?
The seventeenth century was the age of new scientific discoveries. An increasing number of universities were established. This led to a new generation of scientists who discovered scientific laws, some of which are still valid today. 
What caused this thirst for knowledge? 
Which methods were used? 
And who were some of those famous scientists?

Slide 3 - Slide

Word Duty


Science: knowledge about the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation

Revolution: a dramatic change in the way people live.

Scientific Revolution: a period of big changes in different fields of science; new scientific ideas 
gradually replaced classical-religious ideas 

Empirical thinking: research based on observing and experimenting 

Rationalism: research based on reasoning and logic (sometimes difficult for women:-)

Heliocentrism: current worldview in which the earth revolves around the sun (helios = sun).

Geocentrism: Biblical world view in which men believe the Earth is the centre of the universe (geo = earth)

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Important dates in this lesson:

1662 forming of the Royal Society in England

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people in this lesson
You will decide this by doing a project

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people in this lesson
Isaac Newton
Christiaan Huygens
Galileo Galilei

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Main Questions

  1. What is the Scientific Method?
  2. What caused the Scientific Revolution?
  3. How did the Scientific Revolution change the worldview of people?
  4. Who were some of the most famous scientists from that age and what did they accomplish?

Slide 8 - Slide

The rise of universities 

Up to the sixteenth century, there were only a few universities in Europe. If you lived in the Low Countries and wanted to study at a university, you had to move to Paris, Cologne or Leuven. In the sixteenth century, many universities emerged in big cities. 
After the Dutch Revolt, it was nearly impossible for students in the northern provinces to study in Leuven because the Spanish controlled this city. For this reason, William of Orange founded the University of Leiden in 1575. It enabled students from the northern provinces to study different subjects, like maths and physics. William of Orange also argued that a university would supply well-educated men for the government of the country.

library of the Leiden University in 1610.

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1. Why did William of Orange found the University of Leiden?

Slide 10 - Open question

source A
The anatomical theatre of Leiden was an institution used in teaching anatomy. It was built in 1596. Engraving by Willem Swanenburg (1610).
Museum Boerhaave, Leiden - Anatomical Theatre during radio recording

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2a) Look at source A.
What did students study in this anatomical theatre?

Slide 12 - Open question

2b) What kind of source is Source A for someone studying the Scientific Revolution in the Netherlands?
primary written source
primary nonwritten source
secondary written source
secondary nonwritten source

Slide 13 - Quiz

Change in science 

Scholars in the Middle Ages had ignored the scientific knowledge of Greek and Roman philosophers for nearly a thousand years. Most medieval scholars believed everything was the work of God. 

From the fourteenth century, during the Renaissance, humanists gradually started to question this. They started to search for plausible explanations for natural phenomena. Their research was based on reasoning and logic, without experiments. This way of doing research is called rationalism


painting: The School of Athens (1509-1511) by the Renaissance artist Raphael, depicting famous classical Greek scientists and philosophers in an idealized setting inspired by ancient Greek architecture

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The Scientific Method

In the seventeenth century, another way of doing research developed: scientists started doing research by observing and experimenting. Any scientist should be able to do the same experiment and get the same result; so they could trust the new knowledge backed by the experiment. 
They used their results to establish new scientific laws. This method of scientific research is called empirical thinking
These new ways of doing research led to the scientific revolution. New ideas about maths, physics, astronomy, and microbiology gradually replaced the classical-religious ideas about these subjects, creating an atmosphere of enormous optimism. 

Watch the video about the scientific method. Make notes in your notebook. Don't forget to 
start with the title of this lesson.


Otto von Guericke's experiments on electrostatics, 1672
Empirical thinking was already conducted in the Arab world before the Renaissance. Copernicus, for instance, relied partly on observations made by Muhammed al-Battani (858-929), who had figured out the year is 365 days (and a bit more) long. Chemist Robert Boyle cribbed heavily from work done by 13th-century Muslim chemist Al-Iraqi. Royal Society physicians learned about inoculation from doctors in Constantinople and Aleppo.

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Slide 16 - Video

source B
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp is a 1632, oil painting on canvas by Rembrandt housed in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the Netherlands. 
The painting is regarded as one of Rembrandt's early masterpieces.

In the work, Dr. Nicolaes Tulp is pictured explaining the musculature of the arm to medical professionals. Some of the spectators are various doctors who paid commissions to be included in the painting. The painting is signed in the top-left hand corner Rembrandt. f[ecit] 1632. This may be the first instance of Rembrandt signing a painting with his forename (in its original form) as opposed to the monogramme RHL (Rembrandt Harmenszoon of Leiden), and is thus a sign of his growing artistic confidence.

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3a) Look at source B. Who made this painting?

Slide 18 - Open question

3b) Look again at Source B.
The painting is a good example of:
empirical thinking

Slide 19 - Quiz

The Royal Society

Scientists were an international community. They didn’t keep secrets, but published their findings in books and pamphlets. In England, in 1662, a group of scientists formed the Royal Society. They met, talked through their latest ideas, and performed experiments. Communication was important. They invited important scientists from all over Europe to their meetings, and published accounts of the meetings that were read all over Europe and its colonies.

In the rest of this section, we shall take a look at a number of influential scientists who lived during the scientific revolution. This is going to be a group PROJECT.


Source C
Colbert presents scientists to king Louis XIV.
The French Academy of Sciences (French: Académie des sciences) is a learned society, founded in 1666 by king Louis XIV at the suggestion of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, to encourage and protect the spirit of French scientific research. It was at the forefront of scientific developments in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, and is one of the earliest Academies of Sciences.

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4. Look back at the notes you made from the video of the Scientific Method.
Which point nr 7 would scientists at the Royal society add?
Add it to your note.
start with a new hypothesis
ask permission from the pope to publish the conclusion
share and publish the conclusion
keep the conclusion a secret

Slide 21 - Quiz

5. Look at Source C. Do you think the British established the Royal Society because the French king Louis XIV had created the French Academy of Sciences? Explain your answer.

Slide 22 - Open question

6. This is a prosthetic arm which is used for people who
have lost an arm; after surgery the prosthetic arm is
controlled by the human brain, just like a real arm.
Explain that this development is an effect of the
Scientific Revolution

Slide 23 - Open question

7. Which of the words in the sequence below is the odd one out?
Explain your answer.

rationalism / absolutism / empirical thinking / scientific revolution

Slide 24 - Open question

8. Why was the Scientific Revolution a "revolution"?

Start your answer by explaining the term revolution.

Slide 25 - Open question

PROJECT: poster 17th century scientists

*  groups of three (made by your teacher)
*  each group picks one scientist to research
*  make a poster according to the required elements.
*  two lessons to complete
*  use rubric to score


  1. *  Galileo Galilei
  2. *  William Harvey
  3. *  Francis Bacon
  4. *  Johannes Kepler
  5. *  Christiaan Huygens
  6. *  Isaac Newton
  7. *  René Déscartes
  8. *  Robert Boyle
  9. *  Edmond Halley
  10. *  Antony van Leeuwenhoeck

Next slides:  -see the layout + required elements
                         -see the scoring rubric
Useful websites to get started with your research: 

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This is the layout 
and the required elements 
of your poster.

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Tips on how to do the project:
Lesson 1:
1. read the instructions. What do you need to do?
2. make a task division
3. create a Google doc in which you can work together
4. do research
5. collect information in your joint document.
6. write the texts in your own words (except the quote, duhhh)

Lesson 2
7. make the poster in a digital format.
8. Hand in the poster as a pdf. (mail to the teacher).

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Summary Lesson 3.4

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Lesson 3.4 overview
Copy this overview in your notebook and fill in the following terms: empirical thinking,  sharing results, reasoning and logic, rationalism, humanists, Scientific Method, everything is work of God, observing and experimenting, scientific laws

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Write down a question about something from this
lesson that you find difficult.

That is NOT the same as writing down the number of a question......

Slide 32 - Open question


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