Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/468

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who were instrumental in the establishment of the school and the preparation of the course of study.

The pupils brought in many wild plants, and the fleshy roots of biennials—turnips in variety, carrot, parsnip, radish, beet, onion (bulb), cabbage, etc. In planting, they took turns in digging the holes and placing the plants in position. Observations were made during the flowering season. The structure of the flowers of the cruciferous and umbelliferous plants was studied, and the nature of biennials was revealed. Other economic plants, such as the potato, the tomato, and the gourd, were raised to show the individualism of plants.

A square yard of ground was assigned to each of the ordinary grains—wheat, rye, oats, barley, and buckwheat. The first four, being most important members of the grass family, were especially interesting in their development. After that, grains meant more to the pupils.

Nineteen species of wild asters were planted in one row. Ten of the finest flowering kinds formed another row. Later it was discovered that those plants blossomed the most profusely which sprang from seeds scattered at random around trees and beside rocks and fences.

In the fall, seed vessels were collected for study in winter, and bulbs, corms, and tubers were stored away for spring planting.

Each member of the highest class had a particular plant to take care of and study. He dug around and watered it, took off all dead leaves and unseemly branches, and tied it up. Then he sketched its characteristic parts—flower, leaf, stem, habit of growth, etc.—and took such written notes as would enable him to write an account of his plant and illustrate it with appropriate drawings. On one occasion each of the thirty-two members of the class studied his own clump of asters, there being just clumps enough to go around. The importance of seeing and studying plants growing in large masses is not likely to be overestimated if interest and thoroughness in learning about them are desired. Comparatively, a single cut specimen in hand means but little.

By the aid of the boys a fernery was made in an angle of the school building on the north side, in a shady, sheltered position. They took handcarts into the woods half a mile distant and collected leaf-mold, which they mixed up thoroughly with loam and sand, and then assisted in taking the ferns from scattered places in the garden and locating them by genera in the fernery. The name of each species was written on a flat stick, which was stuck into the ground near the specimen to which the name belonged.

Seeing what one teacher had done, another, by means of a