Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/445

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

429

sand objects. Valuable contributions have been received from the expedition of the curator of the anthropological (physical) department to Arizona. The herbarium of the late Mr. M. S. Bebb, added to the botanical department, represents much of the flora of the Western States, and "about all" that of Illinois. Numerous other botanical collections and additions to the geological and zoological departments are mentioned. Field work was prosecuted by Mr. G. A. Dorsey among the Hopi Indians in Arizona, C. F. Millspaugh in the collection of North American forest trees, and O. C. Farrington in the Tertiary geology of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Other excursions were made among the zinc-lead deposits of southeast Missouri, to the Olympian Mountins of the Northwest, to "a point beyond which nothing unless provided with wings could go," etc., all resulting in collections of one kind or another. The museum was visited by 3,963 more persons than in the year before.

A Year at Harvard Observatory.—The director of Harvard College Observatory reports the addition to the resources of the institution of twenty thousand dollars bequeathed by Charlotte Maria Haven, and twenty-five thousand dollars by Eliza Appleton Haven, without further restriction in the application of the income than that it shall be for direct purposes connected with astronomical science. In these bequests the legators fulfilled the wishes of their brother, Horace Appleton Haven, as expressed half a century ago. By the peculiar organization of the force of the observatory, with a single director to oversee all and a large force of assistants, each having a special work and many of them skillful only in that, an increased amount of work can be done for a given expenditure, and great advantages for co-operation are secured, but too much depends upon a single person—the director. In the examination of the spectra of stars photographed in the Draper, Bruce, and Bache telescopes by Mrs. Fleming, twelve new variable stars were discovered by means of their bright hydrogen lines, and the spectra of a considerable number of other stars were determined. Valuable results, obtained by other examiners, are mentioned. An instrument has been constructed by which prismatic spectra can be converted into normal spectra or any other desired change of scale can be effected. By photographs obtained of stars in the vicinity of the north pole material is believed to be furnished for an accurate determination of the constants of aberration, nutation, and precession. Sixteen circulars were issued during 1897-98. When fifty of these circulars have been issued, a title-page and index are to be published for binding.

Putting Life in the School.—The discussion of the hygiene of instruction, said Dr. G. W. Fitz, in addresses which are published in the American Physical Education Review, brings us at once face to face with one of the gravest problems of our educational system—the depressing effect of school routine. In the search for a remedy "the school programme has been pronounced poor, and efforts have been made to enrich it. The work has been pronounced abstract and object lessons have been introduced; uninteresting and bright colors, varied shapes, pictures innumerable, have been rushed upon the child until he has been bewildered by the multiplicity of detail, and further exhausted by the demand for more discriminating attention. The fundamental difficulty has been that too much has been required of the child in the beginning, and the attempt at enrichment and greater variety has but increased the burden." Children begin learning to read before they have acquired experience and ideas to match the text; and "experience has shown over and over again that the child who begins to read at eight or even ten years of age is in no wise handicapped in his later intellectual progress. He has the inestimable advantage of intense interest, roused by his growing ability to unlock the secrets of books and papers after the fashion of his elders." Writing is taught before the child has acquired the art of fine co-ordination, and the effort demanded in the use of the pen "leads to a degree of nervous exhaustion unapproached by any other school work." In arithmetic the children "are unable to grasp the numerical relations involved, and the drill, which makes it a pure exercise of memory, is necessary. Much of the aversion to arithmetical