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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/329

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By L. L. W. WILSON, Ph. D.

WHEN it was first proposed to me to write for the Popular Science Monthly a brief account of the biological laboratories in the Philadelphia Normal School, and of the Nature work carried on under my direction in the School of Observation and Practice, I felt that I could not do justice either to the place or the work; for, in my judgment, the equipment of the laboratories and the work done in connection with them are finer than anything else of the kind either in this country or abroad—a statement which it seemed to me that I could not make with becoming modesty. But, after all, it is not great Babylon that I have built, but a Babylon builded for me, and to fail to express my sense of its worth is to fail to do justice to Dr. W. P. Wilson, formerly of the University of Pennsylvania, to whom their inception was due; to Mr. Simon Gratz, president of the Board of Education, who from the beginning appreciated their value, and without whose aid they never would have taken visible form; to the principals of the two schools, and, above all, to my five assistants, whose knowledge, zeal, and hard work have contributed more than anything else to the rapid building up of the work.

The Laboratories and their Equipment.—The rooms occupied by the botanical and zoölogical departments of the normal school measure each seventy by twenty feet. A small workroom for the teachers cuts off about ten feet of this length from each room. In the middle of the remaining space stands a demonstration table furnished with hot and cold water. Each laboratory is lighted from the side by ten windows. From them extend the tables for the students. These give plenty of drawer space and closets for dissecting and compound microscopes. Those in the zoological room are also provided with sinks. Each student is furnished with the two microscopes, stage and eyepiece micrometers, a drawing camera, a set of dissecting instruments, glassware, note-books, text-books, and general literature.

The walls opposite the windows are in both rooms lined with cases, in which there is a fine synoptic series.

In the botanical laboratory this systematic collection begins with models of bacteria and ends with trees. In other cases, placed in the adjoining corridor, are representatives, either in alcohol or by means of models, of most of the orders of flowering plants, as well as a series illustrating the history of the theory of cross-fertilization, and the various devices by which it is accomplished; another, showing the