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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/541

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HOME-MADE APPARATUS.

Euphrates, and the Orontes have completely depopulated many districts exposed to the devastations of their yearly floods.

In America the same cause has begun to produce the same effect. Not in Mexico alone, but within the boundaries of our own republic, the progress of reckless forest-destruction has made inundations an annual calamity, and has so impoverished the soil of the denuded area that extensive tracts in the terrace-lands of the southern Alleghanies now resemble the despoblados of worn-out Spain. The loss resulting from the consequences of that improvidence far exceeds the benefit of labor-saving machinery—so much so, indeed, that the waste of vegetable mold, in our Eastern cotton States alone, more than outweighs the profit derived from the improvement of all agricultural implements used on this continent.

 

HOME-MADE APPARATUS.
By JOHN F. WOODHULL,

PROFESSOR OF NATURAL SCIENCE IN THE COLLEGE FOR THE TRAINING OF TEACHERS,
NEW YORK CITY.

IT is a duty every teacher owes to his pupils to explain to them, or help them to find out for themselves, the causes of the natural phenomena which occur daily before their eyes. Yet to undertake to teach pupils about natural objects without allowing them to see, handle, hear, taste, or smell them—i. e., to come in contact with them by means of their senses—is like trying to teach music to a man who was born deaf, or color to a man who was born blind. Although it is pretty generally conceded that the teaching of the physical sciences ought to be accompanied with illustrative experiments, it is rarely done in the public schools, even in the larger high schools.

The science teacher in the public schools appears to be in a state of mind which might be described as hopeless. He knows that it is idle to look for well-equipped laboratories in the public schools. He knows, also, that even if he could hope for laboratories and apparatus, he certainly can never expect a course of study which will permit of sufficient time for laboratory work. Therefore, finding it wholly impracticable to carry out his convictions, he is in a state of hopelessness. He despairingly falls into the old way of assigning lessons from the text-book. Subjects so full of interest as the natural sciences are thus converted into useless drudgery.

The problem is, How shall we make it practicable to teach science in the public schools experimentally?

The first difficulty in the solution of this problem is that school