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If we wish really to know ourselves, our homes, our world, we must do the same. To learn science we, too, must observe the objects about us and the changes that take place in them. We must see them not only with
sharp eyes, but with minds sharpened to question why and to work out a sensible answer. We call a change in an object, such as a fire, an eclipse, or the falling of a stone, a phenomenon; the plural is phenomena.
Think of all we could learn if we would keep our eyes open at home and on our way to and from school! We do not even need to go into the country to learn about
trees, shrubs, and weeds, about insects, birds, rocks, clouds, and the wind, or how the ground is washed by the rain. Suppose we really “look into" the kitchen and find out what materials and tools are used in cooking, baking, and cleaning, and why each is used; what “ tin” dishes are made of ; how such things as canopeners, egg-beaters, gas stoves, faucets, and sink traps “work.” Suppose we watch the washing and ironing
' of clothes and find out what materials are used and why; how the washing of woolen goods differs from that of cotton; why bluing is used; why tubs, if of metal, are of galvanized iron, while clothes boilers are of tinned copper and washboards of zinc; why clothes dry so rapidly on one day and so slowly on another day.
There is ever so much more that we can find out in our homes, but let home be only the beginning of our field of study. Let us find some way of watching a painter at his work and try to learn what paint is made of and what each part of it is for. We can also make it a point to see the mason, the cement worker, the electrician, the carpenter, the plumber, the blacksmith, the farmer, and the gardener at their work, and can let each of these be our teacher. We shall find that every workman knows a great deal about his art, or trade; after a while we may be able to learn the scientific reasons, that is, the real, common-sense reasons, for what he does.
4. What is an Experiment? You have already seen how much we can learn if we observe common objects and phenomena closely and think clearly about them. In science we also study by experiment, that is, we put substances, or plants, or animals, under certain special conditions, so as to find out what happens to them. Thus, we put a geranium in a dark room, so as to learn how it will grow without light; or we feed different kinds of food to a pig, in order to find out which will fatten it the most rapidly; or we put some sugar into a dish and heat it, to learn how hot it is when it chars; or we see how much we can stretch a brass wire before it breaks; or we pass light through a piece of thick glass, to find out how the light will be changed. The experiments with the geranium, the pig, the sugar, the brass wire, and the light are really questions put to nature. The result of the experiment is the answer nature gives us. Our business is to understand the answer correctly.
5. Why Study Science? -- Science is the foundation of our modern life, of its manufacturing industries, its agriculture, its steamship, railroad, and electric lines, of its telephone, telegraph, and wireless service. To science the farm owes its modern machinery, its better and larger crops of grain, its fine stock and poultry, its more abundant fruit; to science the up-to-date city house and school building owe their cleanliness, light, fresh air, and conveniences. We should study science, then, not merely to “observe phenomena," but to understand the ways of the community in which we live.
We may think that the comforts we now enjoy have always been here; our great-grandparents, if they were living, could tell a different story. They would tell of a time when such common things as glass and soap were expensive and not easy to get, when houses had no running water, when it was hard to provide heat and
light, when cloth was woven at home, and when food canned in “ tin " was unknown. .
A little further back in time, even the wealthy could not have the commonest of modern comforts. Their houses were full of drafts and were dark and dirty; news came slowly; books were scarce and expensive; traveling was hard and dangerous. The farming of those days was very
difficult, for farm tools were crude and farm machinery was known (Fig. 2). When we compare this condition of things with our modern ways, with the rapid transportation of people, freight, and news, with cheap books and free libraries, with the care of
public health, with (Copyright, International Stereograph Co.) scientific agriculture, - How an Egyptian does his plowing.
we get some idea of what science means to the world.
But all this study of science will mean little to us unless we apply it to ourselves and to our way of living. We must also learn about these bodies of ours, so that we may know what things will bring us health and power and what will make us weak and useless. No amount of knowledge will help us much, if we do not have proper food and clothing, vigorous exercise, abundant sleep,
and strong habits of cleanliness and good conduct. Science shows us, as nothing else can, how to have “a
a sound mind in a sound body” ; we should study it to learn how to live long and useful lives.
6. What We Have Learned. Science begins with common-sense answers to questions regarding nature.
Nature includes objects and phenomena.
The objects and phenomena we study are: (1) those of nature; (2) those of home industries and the common occupations; (3) those of experiments.
To experiment is to question nature with a purpose.
7. Exercises. — 1. What are the proofs that the earth is round,
. and not flat? Who first sailed around it?
2. What is the diameter of the earth? Of the moon? How far is the moon from the earth? (Consult Chapter XI.)
3. Make a list of some of the great inventions, with their dates and the names of the inventors.
4. Name some of the important scientific discoveries of the last century.
5. Make a list of the tools and apparatus used in your kitchen, for cooking, baking, and cleaning.
6. Make a list of the different substances used in your kitchen and laundry.
7. Give the names and uses of the most important tools and machines used by carpenters; by gardeners; by up-to-date farmers.
8. Make a list of the different kinds of materials used in the building of a house.
9. Name the different methods used for carrying (and lifting) passengers and for sending freight and news.