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DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL SCIENCE
FIRST SESSION.—THURSDAY, JULY 13, 1899
The meeting was called to order in the hall of the chamber of commerce at 3 P. M. by Charles Newell Cobb, president of the department. In the absence of the secretary, N. A. Harvey, West Superior, Wis., was elected secretary pro tempore.
The program presented was as follows:
President's address, “Thirty Years' Progress in Science Teaching,” by Charles Newell Cobb, Albany, N. Y.
The Status of the Fur Seal,” by President David Starr Jordan of Leland Stanford Jr. University.
“ The Relation of Physics to Other Subjects in the High-School Curriculum,” by S. P. Meads, professor of science, High School, Oakland, Cal. This paper was discussed by Mr. Cobb, Mr. Schultz, and Mr. Tolman.
The report of the Committee on Physics and the report of the co-ordinating committee of the Department of Natural Science Instruction were read. Upon motion, the reports were received as reports of progress, and action upon them was deferred until the next day.
REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON PHYSICS A copy of the following proposition has been presented to each member of the committee. The replies received are indicated below.
“ As a member of the Physics Committee appointed to act in co-operation with the Natural Science Sec. tion of the National Educational Association, I approve the following recommendations:
"1. That, in public high schools and schools preparatory for college, physics be taught in a course occupying not less than one year of daily exercises; more than this amount of time to be taken for the work if it is begun earlier than the next to the last year of the school course.
“ 2. That this course of physics include a large amount of individual laboratory work, mainly quantitative, done by the pupil under the careful direction of a competent instructor and recorded by the pupil in a notebook.
“3. That such laboratory work, including the keeping of the notebook and the working out of results from laboratory observations, occupy not more than one-half of the whole time given to physics by the pupil.
“4. That the course include also instruction by text-book and lecture, with qualitative experiments by the instructor, elucidating and enforcing the laboratory work, or dealing with matters not touched upon in that work, to the end that the pupil may gain, not merely empirical knowledge, but, so far as this may be practi. cable, a comprehensive and connected view of the most important facts and laws in elementary physics.
5. That college-admission requirements be so framed that a pupil who has successfully followed out such a course of physics as that here described may offer it toward satisfying such requirements. (The question whether the college should hold an examination to determine the candidate's attainments in physics is not here considered.)
PROFESSOR CARHART, of Ann Arbor, signed the propositions as here given.
MR. C. L. HARRINGTON, of Dr. Sachs' Collegiate Institute in New York, signed after changing the phrase "toward satisfying such requirements" in 5 to “ as satisfying the requirements in physics.” I have no reason to think that this change affects the meaning of the proposition as interpreted by the other members of the committee.
Mr. Julius HORTVET, of the East High School in Minneapolis, signed, but wrote: “I would amend 3 by stating that the laboratory work, including the keeping of the notebook, etc., occupy at least one-half of
the whole time given to physics by the pupil. I am coming to the belief that physics should be given at least a year and a half in the latter part of the school course."
Mr. C. J. Ling, of the Manual Training School in Denver, signed after changing "next to the last " in 1 to "third,” and added : “ I change first statement to read as above on account of those schools which have only three years in the course. I consider algebra and plane geometry of great help to a successful course in physics."
PROFESSOR E. L. NICHOLS, of Cornell, signed, but wrote: “I would suggest that section 3 be made to read that the time allotted to laboratory work should be approximately one-half the total time allotted to physics."
MR. E. D. Pierce, of the Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Conn., signed the propositions without change.
Professor SANFORD, of Leland Stanford, signed after changing the words “not more than one-half” in 3 to " at least three-fourths."
MR. Edward R. ROBBINS, of the Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, N. J., signed after striking out “the next to" of the last line in 1 and changing “toward satisfying” to “in satisfaction of” in 5.
PROFESSOR B. F. THOMAS, of Columbus, O., signed the propositions without change.
It now seems to me that if we change the words "not more than one-half” in 3 to approximately one half," as Professor Nichols suggests, we shall have a set of propositions upon which the committee is substantially agreed, altho it will not be safe to say that the agreement is complete. I doubt whether it is worth while to try to get from the committee anything more than what I have here set down.
These propositions, with Professor Nichols' amendment as just given, were read by me before the Section of Physics and Chemistry of the New York State Science Teachers' Association at Columbia University, December 30, 1898, in the course of a paper on my experience with physics as a requirement for admission to college. I did not propose or think of their adoption by that section; but they were immediately approved by the section, on the motion of Professor Hallock, of Columbia, and will doubtless appear as adopted in the report of the meeting to be printed by the state of New York.
(Signed) EDWIN H. HALL,
SECOND SESSION.- FRIDAY, JULY 14
The meeting was called to order by President Cobb. The following committees were appointed :
COMMITTEE ON NOMINATIONS
T, H. Kirk.
COMMITTEE ON RESOLUTIONS
C. D. Wilson.
The following program was presented :
“ The Pedagogical Content of Zoology,” by N. A. Harvey, State Normal School, West Superior, Wis. The paper was discussed by Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, of Columbia University, New York.
“Science in the High School,” by Dr. George Mann Richardson, professor of organic chemistry, Leland Stanford Jr. University.
“Relation of High-School to College Mathematics,” by Charles F. Wheelock, University of the State of New York.
The Committee on Nominations reported as follows :
On motion, the secretary was instructed to cast the ballot of the department for the persons nominated.
The Committee on Resolutions reported as follows:
WHEREAS, The members of the department feel a deep and heartfelt appreciation for the reception accorded them by the citizens of Los Angeles, the chamber of commerce, and the Academy of Sciences of Southern California; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Department of Natural Science Instruction of the National Educational Association extend a vote of thanks and good wishes to the chamber of commerce and the local committee for the use of their assembly room, and for their assistance in making our visit and our meetings both pleasurable and instructive.
Resolved, That a vote of thanks be extended to the members of the National Educational Association who have contributed to the efficiency and popularity of our program, and to the president, vice-president, and secretary pro tempore for their interest and zeal in their work for science and this department:
Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be spread upon the minutes, and copies sent to the chamber of commerce and the local committee of the Academy of Sciences.
SIDNEY F. SMITH.
ALONZO B. TROTH.
N. A. HARVEY,
Secretary pro tempore.
BY CHARLES NEWELL COBB, UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK,
ALBANY, N. Y. Thirty years of discovery and invention have done much for the progress of science, and, as a consequence, within that period our surroundings have changed to such a degree that we are likely to be oblivious to the conditions existing only three decades ago.
Less than one generation back there was no multiple nor wireless telegraphy, no stock-ticker nor telephone, no dynamo, with all the resulting applications of cheap electric energy to the multitudinous requirements of the present civilization. The Röntgen rays were unknown, and the liquefaction of the more refractory gases had not been attained. Photography was circumscribed by the limits of the wet process, and the reproduction of the photograph to millions of copies by the present improved methods was no more than a dream.
Trains of sleeping-cars and dining-cars heated by steam, lighted by electricity, and controlled by the air-brake had not been built, nor had a single line of railway yet extended its tracks of steel across the buffaloblackened plains to join the crowded Atlantic states with the then sparsely settled Pacific coast. Only sixty-three elements were then listed, and little was known of organic chemistry, while the saving of by-products is a recent-day study.
The discoveries in biology, bacteriology, geography, and geology have been fully equaled by those in medicine, dentistry, and surgery, mining and metallurgy, and the whole category of sciences of that day. Meteorology and economic entomology may be mentioned as examples of many
new sciences developed by the present generation. So the field for science study and teaching is daily extending, and it is true now to an extent that it was never before true that it is no light task for one to overtake the present state of the world's knowledge even within narrow limits.
The material for science teaching is constantly increasing, as are also the facilities for obtaining it. The express and mail now bring it from all parts of the world, while home industries furnish it on every hand. Never before were school apparatus and school supplies so abundant, so varied, or so cheap as now.
Within the period under consideration no small degree of prog. ress has been made in the science of teaching, while the dissemination of the knowledge of that science and the growth of the art have been both extensive and intensive. In 1870 only 53 normal schools, having 1,028 students, were reported by the United States Commissioner of Education; in 1896-97, 362 normal schools, having 67,700 students, were reported; while the entire number of those reported as taking normal courses in normal schools, universities, colleges, high schools, and academies was 89,943, an increase of 5,534 over the previous year.
Thirty years ago the teachers' institute was in its infancy, and few teachers came under its influence, while today those who attend are numbered by the ten-thousand. At that time few teachers attended summer schools of any sort, while now many annually gain either in matter or in method from this source. Then teachers' papers and magazines were few in number and had few readers; now the number of these publications is great and is increasing yearly; the amount and the character of talent engaged in their preparation is ever increasing and improving, while they number among their readers, not only nearly all teachers, but many members of school boards and trustees.
Another hopeful sign is the growing number of associations, councils, and clubs where teachers gather for professional improvement. In the state of New York there are now eleven annual educational gatherings, drawing their membership from the entire area of the state, viz.: the university convocation, including the officers and teachers of all secondary and higher institutions, which meets at Albany the last week in June; the meetings of the academic principals and of the grammar-school principals at Syracuse during the holiday week; the state teachers' association for all interested in education; the meetings of the science teachers; the music teachers; the art teachers, who hold two meetings yearly; the business teachers; the school commissioners; the city and village superintendents, and the school boards -- all meeting at various times and places. In addition to these, the normal-school principals meet twice yearly, and there are county and tricounty and interlake and locality associations, councils, and clubs to the number of sixty, gathering their members from more limited geographic areas.
This general interest in the science of teaching has not been without its effect on the methods of teaching science; and improved supervision, including the administration of laws regulating the practice of medicine, surgery, dentistry, and pharmacy, has accomplished much in the same direction. As a natural result of an extended field, added material, improved methods, and more intelligent supervision may be noted the lengthening of existing science courses and the establishing of such courses where formerly there were none. President Jordan said at Champaign in 1892:
I was early called from New York to such a chair (natural history) in a well-known college of Illinois. As professor of natural history I taught zoology, botany, geology, physiology, as a matter of course; physics, chemistry, mineralogy, natural theology, and political economy, also as a matter of course. With these went German, Spanish, and evidences of Christianity, because there was no one else to take them. There finally fell to me the literary work of the college — the orations, essays, declamations. I tried at one time to establish a little laboratory in chemistry, but met with a sharp rebuke from the board of trustees, who directed me to keep the students out of what was called the cabinet, for they were likely to injure the apparatus and waste the chemicals.
In one institution toward which I looked the chair of natural history was found unnecessary. In the meeting of the board of trustees a member arose and said in substance: “We have just elected a professor of history. This includes all history, and the work in natural history is a part of it.”
Speaking of Dr. Torrey, of Columbia College, the catalog of 1868 says: “It is his purpose to deliver lectures on botany at such hours as will not interfere with the regular studies of the undergraduates." This might seem to indicate that there were graduate students, but no mention is made of such, tho the names of all the undergraduates are given to the number of 147.
It is only thirty-two years since Columbia School of Mines sent out its first graduate. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University were just opening. Johns Hopkins, the University of Chicago, the University of California, and Leland Stanford Jr. were not yet. Prior to 1860 only fourteen schools and departments of science had been opened in the United States, if we are to credit the report of the Commissioner of Education.
It was about this time that an enterprising publishing firm, correctly anticipating extensive sales, arranged with a scholarly gentleman of literary taste to write a series of popular, readable text-books covering brief courses in elementary science. This series of text-books accomplished two results of general interest: first, it brought considerable sums of money into the hands of the author, a large portion of which has been used to build and equip a most admirable physical laboratory for a wellknown university; and, second, it led many persons to pursue a short course in elementary science who otherwise would not have given it any attention.