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whale jawbone from Cabinet of Curisoities program with Dean Howarth. Photo courtesy of Louise Krafft, used with permission.

The moniker, “Natural Philosopher,” has been used by men of science since the Renaissance. Although Dean Howarth, the Natural Philosopher now, specializes in 18th century discoveries, the history of science extends farther back and farther forward. Within the time line of scientific history, Mr. Howarth portrays a broad range of of scientists and innovators extending from the 16th to the 20th century.

In the spirit of Diderot, his interests in the arts and sciences are broad and multifaceted. Mr. Howarth uses an extensive collection of replica scientific apparatus to conduct period accurate demonstrations similar to what one would see at a meeting of a scientific society or in a discussion with fellow men of science like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

A roster of the characters can be seen in Roles. However, the list is always growing to suit the wide scope of the sciences listed below:

* Astronomy * Physics * Natural Science * Pneumatics * Paleontology * Chemistry * Acoustics * Early Electricity * Ballooning * Espionage * Meteorology * Quackery *

Mr. Howarth has worked extensively with museums and historic sites. These institutions provide a valuable connection with our heritage. For millennia, people have taken pilgrimages to see, first hand, relics that tie the past to the present in a personal way. Be it the Dead Sea Scrolls or Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, people want to experience the “real thing” and feel a personal bond with history.

photo taken by Dean Howarth during visit to Tycho Brahe's Observatory and Museum

Dean Howarth has made pilgrimages to scientific sites around the globe, and these experiences have enriched his narratives. Visits to Tycho Brahe’s island home in Sweden, Newton’s grave in London, and Ground Zero in Alamogordo, New Mexico are just some of the many journeys he has taken to enhance his knowledge, and add gravitas and nuance to his performances.

Mr. Howarth's goal is not to show how he past was different from today. Instead, it is to show how the past remains relevant to the future. The foundations of modern science and science education are found in the works of great natural philosophers of the past.

These principles resonate through the annals of time, and prove that today’s emphasis on STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is not such a new idea after all.