“Old Dead Guys”: Using Activity Breaks to Teach History


  • Joseph H. Holles Michigan Technological University


The people and history of chemical engineering surround us: Gibbs free energy, Arrhenius Equation, and Reynolds number. Since these seminal figures appear in almost every classroom lecture, they provide an opportunity for a historically focused activity break. Each activity break provides the students with an image of the historical figure along with biographical information and a discussion of their major accomplishments. The historical context in which the accomplishment occurred, the influence of other historical events on it, and other broad societal influences can also be discussed.

Author Biography

Joseph H. Holles, Michigan Technological University

Joseph H. Holles is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Technological University. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering in 1990 from Iowa State University and his M.E. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1998 and 2000, respectively. His research area is nanoscale materials design and synthesis for catalytic applications with an emphasis on structure/property relationships and insitu characterization.