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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/333

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317
NATURE STUDY.

states of development. Beautiful models of the bees and of the comb, together with dry and alcoholic material, illustrate further this metamorphosis, by contrast making clearer the exactly opposite metamorphosis of the locust.

At least one member of each of the other orders of insects is compared with these two type forms, and, although only important points are considered at all, yet from one to two hours of laboratory work are devoted to each specimen. This leisurely method of work is pursued to give the students the opportunity, at least, to think for themselves. When the subject is finished they are then given a searching test. This is never directly on their required reading, but planned to show to them and to their teachers whether they have really assimilated what they have seen and studied.

After this the myriapods, the earthworm, and peripatus are studied, because of their resemblance to the probable ancestors of insects. In the meantime they have had a dozen or more fully illustrated lectures on evolution, so that at the close of this series of lessons they are expected to have gained a knowledge of the methods of studying insects, whether living or otherwise, a working hypothesis for the interpretation of facts so obtained, and a knowledge of one order, which will serve admirably as a basis for comparison in much of their future work.

They then take up, more briefly, the relatives of the insects, the spiders and crustaceans, following these with the higher invertebrates, reaching the fish in April. This, for obvious reasons, is their last dissection. But with living material, and the beautiful preparations and stuffed specimens with which the laboratory is filled, they get a very general idea of the reptiles, birds, and mammals. This work is of necessity largely done by the students out of school hours. For example, on a stand on one of the tables are placed the various birds in season, with accompanying nests containing the proper quota of eggs. Books and pamphlets relating to the subject are placed near. Each student is given a syllabus which will enable her to study these birds intelligently indoors and out, if she wishes to do so.

In the spring are taken up the orders of animals below the insect, and for the last lesson a general survey of all the types studied gives them the relationships of each to the other.

The Course of Study pursued in the School of Practice.—In addition to the plants and animals about them, the children study the weather, keeping a daily record of their observations, and summarizing their results at the end of the month. In connection with the weather and plants they study somewhat carefully the soil and, in this connection, the common rocks and minerals of Philadelphia—