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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

societies to take place in connection with it. The officers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and of the Boston Society of Natural History have offered the use of their halls and rooms—constituting three closely adjoining buildings. The corporation of Harvard University will make the association its guest for a day in Cambridge; the Essex Institute has arranged for a day in Salem; and there will be an excursion in the harbor, and after the meeting, trips to the White Mountains and Cape Cod. It is hoped that one of the results of the anniversary meeting will be an increase of the research fund of the association, which in twenty years has grown to only six thousand dollars. All members whose names have dropped from the roll are requested to renew their membership, either by paying back assessments and having their names replaced on the roll under their old date of election, or by re-election.

 

Nature Study for Farmers.—The Agricultural Extension work instituted by the College of Agriculture of Cornell University, in compliance with a law of the State of New York, has so far borne the shape of an attempt to discover the best method of teaching the people agriculture. The results to the present time indicate as the most efficient means of elevating the ideals and practice of the rural communities the establishment of Nature study or object-lesson study combined with field walks and incidental instruction in the principles of farm practice in the rural schools; correspondence instruction in connection with reading courses; itinerant or local experiment and investigation, made chiefly as object lessons to farmers, and not for the purpose, primarily, of discovering scientific facts; the publication of reading bulletins which shall inspire a quickened appreciation of rural life; the dispatch of special agents as lecturers or teachers, or as investigators of special local difficulties, or as itinerant instructors in the normal schools and before the training classes of the teachers institutes; and the itinerant agricultural school. The farmers are found, as a whole, the report says, willing and anxious for education; but "it is astonishing, as one thinks of it, how scant and poor has been the teaching which has even a remote relation to the tilling of the soil; and many of our rural books seem not to have been born of any real sympathy with the farmer or any proper appreciation of his environments" In the belief that the fundamental difficulty with our agriculture is that no attempt is made to instruct the children in matters that will awaken an interest in country life, the experiment was tried of visiting the rural and village schools and talking to the children about any object that presented itself at the time. The children imbibed the information with notable readiness and showed a keen interest in it, while the teacher took an almost universal interest in this kind of work; so that the conviction resulted that the greatest good that can be rendered to the agricultural communities is to awaken an interest in Nature study on the part of teachers and children. The best way to reach these persons appears to be by short and sharp observations upon plants, insects, and other objects, and not by means of definite lectures of stated lengths.

 

Hand Spinning.—Domestic spinning, except in its modern revival, is treated by Mr. T. Blashill, of the British Archæological Association, as a lost art. Although it went out in England some fifty or sixty years ago, and in the United States a little later, it has become as completely forgotten by the world as if it had been for centuries unknown. Spindle whorls have been discovered from time to time in deep excavations; implements used in spinning may be seen in the most ancient Egyptian sculptures; and spindles with the whorl attached are found in Egyptian excavations; so that we have means of acquainting ourselves with the conditions of the art in all ages. In hand spinning with spindle and distaff there has been no progress through all these ages, and the most ancient specimens extant might be used by women who in remote countries practice hand spinning to-day. The great wool wheel was in use as early as the fourteenth century and lingered on in Wales down to recent times. The ordinary spinning wheel was known as early as the middle of the sixteenth century, and was at first turned by hand and afterward by the treadle. The earliest spinning wheel extant in England is believed to be in the British Museum, and is of the fourteenth century. In former times the art of spinning was a necessary accomplishment for women