Beyond the Books: Frenchmen Putting Knowledge Into Practice Process Paper

Ethan Young Senior Division Website Competition, 2013

Young 2 When considering topics for research, I first listed my interests. Being a passionate French and Chemistry student, the two topics landed on my list rather quickly. I knew vaguely of the significance France had in the formation of physical chemistry, but was largely unfamiliar with individual scientists. When I first heard the theme of “Rights and Responsibilities,” the French Revolution immediately filled my mind. I tried to hone my research window around this significant event and was delighted to find the Chemical Revolution ’s historical parallelism. From the onset, I imagined my studies in chemistry and French language would be useful in interpreting resources. As I located primary sources at the local library and used books store, I found this hypothesis to be accurate. I began by understanding the landmark achievements of popular scientists: Pasteur, Lavoisier, Gay-Lussac, and others. Then I researched the origins of chemistry alongside the origins of Revolution in France. With this context, I proceeded into online and other print sources to find overarching themes from the period. I stumbled upon several video productions that illustrated experiments and people, which I eventually incorporated as secondary sources. The prospect of building a historical website was an exciting idea since I had first overheard the opportunity from fellow students. I love technology and computers, so there was a preexisting interest in this particular competition medium. Before building my website, I methodically labeled a series of folders that correspond to certain web pages and filled them with quotes, copy, and images. I then calculated the total word count of student-produced text and refined my words to fit the word count limit. After this step, I translated the folders into actual pages and added design elements such as dividers or columns. The final process was

Young 3 editing banner images to best portray my topic. For this task, I used Adobe Photoshop to modify lighting and hues, as well as collage a few images. “Rights and Responsibilities” is an extremely open-ended theme, which was reassuring as I tried to arrange my analysis. There are so many different aspects of science and revolution that fit this description, and I began a slow process of articulating exactly which points I felt were the most pertinent. I landed on a few: the right of science to affect our lives, the social responsibility that catalyzed these scientists’ work, and the civic responsibility of these Frenchmen to translate political revolution into a scientific one. As I studied more and more sources, I found these themes to be distinctly and repeatedly accurate. The French changed the world in this era of new thinking, and their impetus was more than heartening.

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