Meet Benjamin Franklin in 'Living History' Event

This summer, tourists can meet Benjamin Franklin -- or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof -- during a special interactive history event at the Joseph Priestley House in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

August 2 is "Oxygen Day," the day English scientist and clergyman Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen in his laboratory. His historical home, the Joseph Priestley House, is staging a free Oxygen Day event, giving tourists an opportunity to learn about the man and his work firsthand. Priestley's old friend Benjamin Franklin will be giving a look in, too, in the person of Mile "Mike" Kochan.

Kochan, as mentioned in the Daily Item, is a "living history interpreter" with special expertise in 18th century technology, making him a shoe-in for the role of Dr. Franklin. He'll be joining retired chemistry teacher Ronald Blatchley, who plays Priestley himself, in the events of the afternoon. Priestley and Franklin -- or Kochan and Blatchley -- will talk about their respective work in the sciences, as well as demonstrating and discussing elements of their famous experiments.

It's not a stretch at all to imagine Dr. Franklin visiting, either -- the two scientists were great friends in their time, despite Franklin being a full 27 years older than Priestley, and bonded over their love of electricity. Priestley would often consult Franklin about experiments of his own involving various gases (leading up to his discovery of oxygen) and spoke highly of Franklin's experiments with electricity in his own writings. In fact, it's believed by many that much of Priestley's writing about the famous "kite experiment" contains information told to him personally by Franklin.

Visitors will have a chance to see why the two scientists respected each other so much, and learn more about their experiments and accomplishments in science during their time. Benjamin Franklin's presentations will be repeated throughout the afternoon, so visitors to the house will have many opportunities to see and hear Kochan's performance. Joseph Priestley's presentations will occur twice during the course of the afternoon.

The coordinators of the Oxygen Day presentation say that both Benjamin Franklin and Joseph Priestley's presentations are appropriate for all ages, and will be of special interest to kids and teens with an interest in science. Entry to the house is free, and visitors may tour the house at their leisure when not taking part in the scheduled presentations.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]