Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/734

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and who are still so strong that all the professions are affected by their resolution not to retire, and the inability of younger men to invent a reason for making their retirement compulsory. To say that they are picked lives is false, for they are so numerous that the intense vitality of the old and intellectual actually affects the organization of society; and to say that the unintellectual flourish equally well ... is not probably true." The stupid among the cultivated do not survive in anything like the same proportion. Among the ladies of the century, likewise, the oldest have been the highest.

 

Science in Elementary Schools.—Remarking, in a paper, on the Place of Science in Elementary Schools, Prof. Samuel G. Williams observes that all sciences of Nature have their very foundation in correct and definite observation of the facts which Nature presents. It is therefore of .the very essence of science that the pupil should be first of all taught to observe, to use his own senses directly upon appropriate objects, and thus to increase their delicacy and power by repeated employment; and, moreover, to give an account of what he has in any way experienced, that the fact observed may be assured and that its results may be embodied in language. When even the youngest child is thus brought into direct contact with Nature, he is quick to note the infinite variety which it presents, to see that this object is similar to that and quite unlike the other. Incipient powers of comparing and judging emerge, and should be appealed to in all possible ways; for ripeness of judgment results only from repeated acts of judging. Rude and then more perfect classifications result from the grouping of the like and the separation of the unlike; and the beginning of class notions is made which future experience shall fill with even clearer and more definite meaning, until gradually and almost unconsciously the pupil grows to a considerable mastery of the general and abstract terms which make so large a part of the language of the more enlightened members of his race. Even those large operations called generalization and induction from observed facts and phenomena, should have their definite beginnings in some part of the elementary course, and especially in certain easy and natural observations of physical phenomena. The youngster whose attention has a few times been directed to the flash of a distant gun and the report which more tardily reaches his ear, can readily be brought to infer that sound travels more slowly than light, and to apply his generalization to lightning and the resultant roll of thunder. Thus, it is obvious that the aim which the science teacher should keep ever clearly in view is first of all to train the senses to ever-growing accuracy and completeness in observation; as accessory to this, to secure the expression and interpretation of what is observed; to neglect no opportunities, however slight, for the exercise of judgment; and to advance, gradually indeed, but always with definite purpose, toward the classification and generalization of results secured by direct personal observation. It will be observed that the keynote of the whole matter is direct contact with Nature, and diligent study of what she has to teach through the proper use of trained senses.

 

Fighting the Gypsy Moths.—The State Board of Agriculture of Massachusetts, through its agents, Prof. C. H. Fernald and E. H. Forbush, appears to be carrying on an effective campaign against the gypsy moth. The work was begun systematically in 1890, so that only the results of the first two season's operations have yet been embraced in the official report; yet, though the attempt was the first on a large scale ever made in the Commonwealth to destroy a species of insect, and the operators were without experience, a very perceptible reduction in the number of the insects and in the damage by them was realized; and trees and orchards that were stripped in 1891 enjoyed the full luxuriance of their foliage in 1892; and the members of the board are now confident that it can be eradicated. Destruction of the insect is found to be a most effectual method of eradication. Another method is to entrap the caterpillars within bands of burlap fastened around the trees. They are in the habit of seeking shelter during the daytime, and if the holes in the trees are stopped up they resort to the burlaps and can then be easily destroyed. When the insects get into the woodlands, dealing with them is more difficult, on account of the un-