Students Recreate Ancient Inventions with the Help of IMF
Sophomore UVM students recently moved out of the classroom and into the IMF lab totake the ancient inventions they studied and develop them into working mechanisms. The students were part of an Honors College class titled “Ancient Inventions,” led by engineering Professor Domenico Grasso, Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies. The majority of this semester-long course focused on studying inventions that were developed during ancient civilization eras from regions such as modern-day Iraq, Italy, and China. The final month of the course transitioned from the traditional classroom setting to the IMF lab, where students chose an invention to recreate. One of the challenges of building the inventions was that students had to use materials similar to those in the actual original creations. Mike, Doug, Carl, and Guy assisted student teams with design and assembly and worked through the “test and modify” process to create a successful device. Some successful working inventions from the class’ efforts included a small-scale aqueduct, a cross-bow, the “Baghdad battery” (originally made with terracotta pots, copper, iron, and vinegar), and a land sail. Students then made multi-media presentations about their invention to Professor Grasso as a culmination of their work. Even the local media took notice of the course; the Burlington Free Press wrote an article published December 10 about the class. The leadership of Professor Grasso and the IMF staff offered these students a unique learning experience that exposed them to the importance and modern-day relevance of inventions built thousands of years ago and allowed them to take their education and apply it in a real-world context.