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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/334

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gneiss, mica schist, granite, sandstone, limestones, quartz, mica, and feldspar.

As in the laboratories, so here the effort is made to teach the children to reason, to read the story told by the individual plant, or animal, or stone, or wind, or cloud. A special effort is made to teach them to interpret everyday Nature as it lies around them. For this reason frequent short excursions into the city streets are made. Those who smile and think that there is not much of Nature to be found in a city street are those who have never looked for it. Enough material for study has been gathered in these excursions to make them a feature of this work, even more than the longer ones which they take twice a year into the country.

Last year I made not less than eighty such short excursions, each time with classes of about thirty-five. They were children of from seven to fourteen years of age. Without their hats, taking with them note-books, pencils, and knives, they passed with me to the street. The passers-by stopped to gaze at us, some with expressions of amusement, others of astonishment; approval sometimes, quite frequently the reverse. But I never once saw on the part of the children a consciousness of the mild sensation that they were creating. They went for a definite purpose, which was always accomplished.

The children of the first and second years study nearly the same objects. Those of the third and fourth years review this general work, studying more thoroughly some one type. When they enter the fifth year, they have considerable causal knowledge of the familiar plants and animals, of the stones, and of the weather. But, what is more precious to them, they are sufficiently trained to be able to look at new objects with a truly "seeing eye."

The course of study now requires general ideas of physiology, and, in consequences, the greater portion of their time for science is devoted to this subject. I am glad to be able to say, however, that it is not "School Physiology" which they study, but the guinea-pig and The Wandering Jew!

In other words, I let them find out for themselves how and what the guinea-pig eats; how and what he expires and inspires; how and why he moves. Along with this they study also plant respiration, transpiration, assimilation, and reproduction, comparing these processes with those of animals, including themselves.

The children's interest is aroused and their observation stimulated t>y the constant presence in the room with them of a mother guineapig and her child. Nevertheless, I have not hesitated to call in outside materials to help them to understand the work. A series of lessons on the lime carbonates, therefore, preceded the lessons on respiration; an elephant's tooth, which I happened to have, helped