Questions for ‘Cool Jobs: Scientific glassblowers shape science’  

a photo of a glassblower using a flame to shape complicated laboratory glassware

Beakers, pipettes, flasks and more. Few people realize that skilled artisans make most scientific glassware by hand (and mouth). This career truly marries art and science. Some people came to glassblowing after training in science. Others started as artists who realized their craft could help advance cutting-edge research.

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To accompany Cool Jobs: Scientific glassblowers shape science’  


Before Reading:

  1. Glass objects have been part of human society for millennia. In the early days, how were those objects made? How do you think they are made today?
  2. Name five different types of things made from glass in your home or classroom. What are some of the properties of glass, and which of these properties have made glass an attractive material for use in those objects?

During Reading:

  1. How is glass made? 
  2. How long have people been making glass?
  3. List at least five important scientific instruments or objects that were made possible through the use of glass. 
  4. Why does Mike Souza argue that glass is “an ideal material for making observations and measurements”?
  5. What does it mean when scientists describe glass as impermeable and virtually inert? 
  6. Why does Souza argue that without glass, society might not have science?
  7. What is an electron accelerator and how can glass be used to make sense of its findings?
  8. What purpose are the optical filters that Jo Wu makes used for? 
  9. What is a Graham condenser used for?

After Reading:

  1. Scientific glassblowers have played a pivotal role in many research discoveries. Does that make them scientists or engineers or something else? Describe why you think so.
  2. Scientific glassblowing is one way that artists can play an active role in research discoveries. What other areas of the arts might also do so? Give at least three examples. (If you’re stumped, think about where you hear about research discoveries and how those advances may be shared with others.)