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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/778

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

selves into mere wind-machines, and mechanically grinding out their results.

One question will naturally arise in the minds of every one: Can similar methods be applied in giving instruction for a limited time when the means and appliances for determination are of themselves much circumscribed? In one case this has been practically answered by myself, in giving instruction in the rudiments of mineralogy and lithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy. The problem was to take dust-covered minerals and rocks that had accumulated through many years—some good, but most of them mere rubbish, the odds and ends of various collections—and give a two and a half months' course. From the necessity of the case, no blow-pipes could be used in the building, there were no crystal models, and the whole apparatus for qualitative tests was a bottle of hydrochloric acid and a few test-tubes which could be used in the cold. Streakers, magnifying-glasses, magnets, and a knife or file, with some broken glass, completed the outfit. The miscellaneous collection of minerals and rocks was washed and sorted, and such specimens as could be used were labeled and placed in drawers accessible to the students. With this material it was impossible to arrange test-drawers as described in the previous course. The instructor then directed the attention of the students to those physical and chemical characters of the specimens that they could make use of. The same general system was pursued as before, so far as the different conditions would permit—the object being the same, to impart valuable instruction together with mental training. The students, under the direction of the instructor, worked over the labeled drawers, and determined for themselves why the specimens were labeled as they were. At the end of the course a series of minerals and rocks was placed before each student, and he was required to determine them, writing out his reasons therefor. The result far exceeded my expectations. Out of thirty-eight students examined, comprising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduates, special and engineering students, thirteen took over ninety per cent, three of whom had the maximum mark; twelve obtained over eighty per cent, five over seventy per cent, four between fifty and sixty per cent, and four between ten and fifty per cent.

That this course afforded an intellectual discipline of advantage to the student has been shown, among various ways, by the testimony of one of the sophomore students. His time later was largely devoted to philosophical studies, including language and history, and after graduation he pursued the same studies at Harvard and in the best European universities. After his return from Europe and his establishment as an instructor in his favorite branches, he informed me that this brief course had been of permanent advantage to him in his later studies, and that it was one of the very few of the courses taken in college upon which he could look back with any satisfaction and be-