BBC Learning Zone Clips

CLIP 13673

Rosalind Franklin - an investigation into her life and work

Rosalind Franklin - an investigation into her life and work
Key Info
  • Rosalind Franklin - an investigation into her life and work
  • Duration: 11:44
  • Four Year 6 pupils, aided and abetted by presenter Joe Crowley, set out to understand why scientist Rosalind Franklin has largely been overlooked by history. Crick and Watson are well-known for their discovery of the structure of DNA. But a female scientist, Rosalind Franklin, went almost unrecognised, despite making a crucial breakthrough. The pupils visit a laboratory to take part in an experiment, which they film on their mobile phones, extracting DNA from a strawberry. They discover the importance of DNA to all living things, and learn about its distinctive double helix structure. Working online, the pupils search newsreel archives, Pathe and Movietone, and discover that Crick and Watson were awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for their work on DNA, but that there is no mention of Franklin. Joe arranges for the pupils to meet Shirley Franklin, Rosalind Franklin's niece, who tells them the scientist made a critical discovery relating to the shape of DNA in 1952 and Crick and Watson got to hear about it. The pupils hear Shirley's personal testimony and learn that Rosalind Franklin was unrecognised partly because female scientists were not treated seriously in the 1950s by many of their male counterparts. The pupils are shown evidence of Rosalind Franklin's crucial discovery in the archive of Churchill College, part of Cambridge University where they are able to examine and record Franklin's original notes. Finally the pupils hear an interview with Dr Patricia Fara, an historian, which Joe recorded on a tablet computer saying female scientists today remain angry at Franklin's treatment. First broadcast on the Learning Zone on BBC2 in March 2012 as part of the series History Hunt.
  • Subject:



    Historical Enquiry

  • Keywords: HistoryHunt, Rosalind Franklin, Crick and Watson, DNA, double helix, Photograph 51, x-rays, Kings College London, Nobel Prize, scientific discoveries, female scientists, discrimination, recognition, newsreel
Ideas for use in class
  • Could be useful when: Discussing the history of Britain since 1930. When discussing changes in science and technology and great scientific discoveries. When exploring the life of a significant individual from the past. When discussing the life of Rosalind Franklin and why she was significant. When discussing how the past has been represented and interpreted in different ways including some of the reasons for this. When using different sources of information to find out about the past.
Background details
  • Clip language : English
  • Aspect ratio : 16x9

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