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It is almost a truism to say that science is the foundation of modern civilization, yet, curiously enough, educators have largely postponed the study of science to the later years of the school course. This is especially true of the fundamental sciences : Physics and Chemistry. As a result, few of the young people who go to school ever study the physical sciences at all and these few only at the end of their student careers.
To say that most students have not studied science is not, of course, to say that they have not had any practical experience with the facts of science. Merely to state such a proposition is to disprove it. From their earliest years children are obliged to adapt themselves to conditions caused by gravitation, inertia, heat, air pressure, convection, and the like; they soon learn to use all sorts of mechanical and electrical devices: but they experience these phenomena and use these devices empirically, without the clarifying influence of scientific explanation and without the inspiration and enlargement of vision that would come from the scientific way of looking at them.
With so little opportunity for science in school, is it any wonder that the child comes to feel that he must pursue the quest of the great natural “whys” of his life outside of the school, or that he must not have so many troublesome questions surging through his mind? A host of school children, it is to be feared, find the latter way the easier and drop out of the ranks of those who wonder. Then, all too late, educators realize that they cannot get such children interested in science. It is well known that normal children, if given the opportunity to seek scientific answers to their problems at an early age, do not need to be "interested” in science; they have the interest as a native endowment. A child's natural eagerness to understand the phenomena he meets in life is so great that it is scarcely true that he needs to BE TAUGHT science; it is more nearly true that he needs an opportunity to LEARN science and to put it to use. Science teaching, moreover, does not consist in getting a pupil to answer the teacher's questions, nor yet in getting the teacher to answer the pupil's questions, but in training pupils to ask and to answer their own questions. Upon the ability to see quickly what is taking place, to understand the reason for it, and to know how to deal with it, not only the progress of the individual, but also the life of the nation depends. Science, which demands observation and reasoning, therefore yields to no branch of knowledge the position of first importance in our modern life; it should have a similar place in our educational system. It is not an elective appendix to the course of study, but the sine qua non of an efficient curriculum. The proper pursuit of science will give the child the opportunity not only to know the world of which he is a part, but to know also his relation and responsibility to that world. Right knowledge is the only sure foundation for right action.
It is to meet the science needs of the students and teachers of the Junior High School and of the corresponding grades elsewhere that Junior Science is written. Nature Study may be pursued in the earlier grades, but grades seven to nine, inclusive, are ideal for the beginning of a definite study of science. In the writing of the text the age of the pupils of these grades and their degree of attainment have been kept constantly in mind. This statement applies both to the quantity of material selected and to its kind. The style of the book is simple.
The section titles are nearly all queries; many questions are also asked throughout the text, as well as in the exercises at the end of the chapters, in order that the student may be kept open-minded and alert. The author is confident that, by using the desire of boys and girls to know the reasons for many things they are now doing, the teacher can arouse them to know the "why" and the "how" of the duties that await them hereafter.
The text consists of two divisions: Books I and II. Book I contains four Parts, distributed into twenty-two chapters :
Part I: Introduction.
Book II consists of three Parts:
Part V: How We Use Nature's Forces.
In the preparation of this textbook the writer has been greatly assisted by his wife, Maud C. Hessler. He is also much indebted to his daughter, Miss Margaret C. Hessler, of the University of Texas, and to Mrs. Margaret Honeywell Miller, recently of the Harlem Hospital, New York City, for the preparation of necessary material. Most of the drawings for the illustrations were made by Professor Robert W. Lahr, of the James Millikin University, and by Mrs. Lahr. Several were made by Mr. W.F. Henderson, Fellow in The Mellon Institute. Photographs for the half tones were obtained from the McIntosh Stereopticon Company, Chicago, the International Stereograph Company, Decatur, Ill., the Old Colony Insurance Company, the Judd Laundry Machine Company, Professor Frederick Starr, Dr. Thomas B. Magath, and from Mr. A. M. Lythgoe, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Other illustrations were provided by Dr. C. F. Millspaugh, of the Field Museum of Natural History, by the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, the National Lamp Works, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the J. Horace McFarland Company, the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, the P. A. Geier Company, the American Hoist & Derrick Company, and the Biltmore Industries, Asheville, N. C.
Several illustrations are reproduced from Hopkins' Physical Geography, by the courtesy of Professor Hopkins.
To all those who have assisted him, as well as to the many writers on science whose work has made this book possible, the author wishes to express his thanks and obligation.
J. C. H. PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA,
What is science? What is an experiment? — Why study
How does a fire burn ? Experiments with burning.