Robert Boyle was a famous scientist who lived 350 years ago. He helped create the Royal Society, which started as a group of scientists who would share their scientific ideas and carry out experiments, just like scientists today. But unlike scientists today, who usually study just one subject, he studied all branches of science, from how we breathe to how sound travels.

This provides a link between the discoveries Robert Boyle made 350 years ago and current scientific research.

In 'What is the timeline?', students are asked to do some guided research from a selection of websites to answer questions on how research in the past has lead to advances today.

The students can use the Royal Society's Trailblazing website to help them answer the questions.

Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle's assistant, showed that we breathe in air.

Joseph Priestly made the discovery that oxygen was the gas that was important for breathing.

John Dalton showed that as you climb higher the air pressure drops, so there is less oxygen to breathe.

Haldane discovered that if you wanted to climb to great heights you had to do it slowly, to allow your body to acclimatise.

Hillary and Tenzing were the first people to climb Mount Everest.
Use this website....

Over 4000 people have climbed Mount Everest today.  Most use oxygen tanks to help them!


Curriculum Links 


Working Scientifically


To develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history


Scottish Curriculum

Social Studies:

SOC 2-06a

People, past events and societies


TCH 2-03b

ICT to enhance learning

We have a lot to thank Robert Boyle for. His work on air was followed by the discovery of oxygen about 100 years later.

A further 100 years on and oxygen was turned into a liquid so it could be stored more easily. Within 50 years, in the 1920s, this liquid oxygen was used with petrol in the first liquid-fuelled rocket - the oxygen is needed for the petrol to burn (as Robert Boyle showed us). 

Blood_250Robert Boyle witnessed the beginning of the science of blood transfusions. People have one of four different blood types, and not all mix together well. Human transfusions were often unsuccessful until the discovery of blood types was made.

Today a patient will only be given blood that matches or mixes well with their blood type.

However, scientists are now working on a way to change all blood types into one which can be given to anyone. In the future it won't matter what blood type you are if you need a transfusion.




Experiment about breathing

What is the timeline?

Can you link Robert Boyle's experiments with modern technology? Start by looking at the Royal Society's Trailblazing site and do the activity below to create a timeline showing how one discovery has led to another, allowing us to do some of the amazing things we can do now.

This picture shows an early experiment to investigate how people breathe when they are at different heights up a mountain.



How to climb Mount Everest...

Take the  online quiz here,

or download the pdf worksheet.