I recently read an article by Rich Mitchell from the November 2007 issue of QST, the magazine of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Titled Building Kits to Learn, Mitchell explains the modular construction of a small radio transceiver kit known as the Pixie 2. He uses this as an example of the knowledge one can learn from assembling kits. It's not just a matter of putting pieces together -- you can use a kit as a platform to better understand a topic.
I've assembled a few simple electronics kits, and Mitchell's article has inspired me to attempt to construct the Pixie 2 in the manner he describes. He makes a strong case for each of the four stages as providing one with a better understanding of the building blocks of radio fundamentals. In particular, he mentions that this approach is similar to an old radio servicing approach used in testing the stages of radios.
Constructing a kit in this manner includes an attitude about the elments that comprise a radio device, and the components necessary for its proper functioning. I wonder if a similar approach could be used in learning about historic topics. In technological histories, building a device might inform one with a perspective of assembly and the elements of its functioning that a review of the literature on the subject might not address. Using the device, in addition to a sense of satisfaction, might reveal experiential contingencies that weren't apparent in a schematic or theory.
With radio, as in this case, a builder gains experience and understanding of how each stage of the tranceiver functions, and gets the reward of hearing and sending signals from the proper construction and alignment of those elements.
Could a History Kit be put together to help teach a particular topic? What would it include? Could it be made dynamic yet modular so as to incorporate elements of complexity that historians like to analyze; or, would such an approach only apply to seemingly linear topics?