Cabinets of Curiosity activity 8: Dr Harvey’s circulation experiments and medicinal cures
Use Cabinets of Curiosity 16: William Harvey and other sources to explore the life and medical career of Folkestone’s most famous son.
Find out how the heart works, and how to keep it healthy.
Take part in a fun experiment using plastic bottles and red food dye to show how the heart pumps blood around the body.
Increased knowledge and understanding of the workings of the circulation of the blood, and of the life of Folkestone-born Dr William Harvey who discovered it.
KS History (Dr William Harvey, History of Medicine, Local History Study)
KS1-2 Science (human bodies, the circulation of the blood)
Start with the image of the pestle and mortar at Learn with Objects A Cabinet of Curiosities 16: William Harvey. Ask the children the following questions:
- What do you think it is?
- What’s it made from?
- What do you think was mixed in it?
- Has anyone seen something a little similar, perhaps made of stone, in your kitchen?
- It belonged to a man called Dr William Harvey. Does anyone know where he came from and why he was famous?
Set the children the challenge to find out more about this artefact, about Dr William Harvey and his links to Folkestone using the Learn with Objects website and other sources and to report back.
There’s a good biography of him at:
There’s a Horrible Histories sketch about him here:
There is a short introductory video about him suitable for upper KS2-4 from the Royal College of Physicians:
Ask children what was Dr Harvey's most famous discovery and what he used the bronze pestle and mortar for (grinding up home-made medicines including for King James I)?
Tell the children that pestles and mortars have been used for thousands of years to grind and mix different ingredients, including for food recipes, medicines, dyes and paints.
Ask them what medicine was like in Stuart times? They can research this too.
Talk about the heart and what pupils think it does.
Watch one of the excellent Operation Ouch videos by Dr Chris and Dr Xand explaining the workings of the heart and the circulatory system. Here’s just one.
Search Operation Ouch Heart on Google Videos to find several more.
Create a working model of the heart using simple everyday materials which demonstrates how it pumps blood around the body.
And here’s an even simpler one from the What’s in my Tray? Heart Pump Science Project
As a follow-up activity, children could research and make a Stuart herbal remedy using a pestle and mortar, just like William Harvey. This could be developed into a short Horrible Histories inspired sketch, perhaps involving a remedy given by William Harvey to King James I in his role as Physician Extraordinary.