ORGANIZATION SEAL EXERCISES -EFFICIENCY CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS REGULATION OF EXERCISES PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE SOCIETY DIRECTOR LECTURES BY THE STUDENT, MODE OF PREPERATION AND DISCIPLINARY V ALUE VALUE OF SCIENTIFIC PERIODICALS
IN 1867, the students pursuing this course organized themselves into a society under the name of the "Scientific Society of Dickinson College," with the expressed wish to extend their knowledge of the various branches of natural science, and to provide facilities for their thorough study.
The device of the seal, a ray of light from a star, decomposed by a prism, and the motto, Nunc ad Sidera, were intended to mark the cosmical character then but recently imparted to chemistry by the spectroscope. As the society proposed to
itself the very modest aim of simply extending the knowledge of its members, and made no pretensions to adding to the sum total of human knowledge, its exercises and conduct were confined exclusively to that purpose. They have been varied, from time to time, and, in many cases, have been merely tentative, and whilst its efficiency has varied with the character, enthusiasm, and numbers of its members, it has, at all times, proved an important addition to the ordinary methods of instruction, and seems full of still larger possibilities for the improvement and inspiration of the student connected with it. All that has proved valuable in the working of the society, in its first ten years, is embodied in its recent constitution and by-laws. After providing for the usual officers and for the election of members, Corresponding and Honorary, as well as active, the more specific measures for carrying out the objects of the society, are stated in an article, which prescribes that, "the exercises of the society shall consist of lectures by the members, accompanied by illustrative experiments; reports of laboratory work; written and verbal communications upon scientific subjects, including reviews of, and abstracts from, scientific or other periodicals; and criticism of the regular performances of the members. The by-laws are, for the most part, concerned with carrying out this article on exercises. The subject of lectures must be announced a week in advance. The lectures must be accompanied by illustrative experiments; must be delivered without manuscript, except brief notes, and are restricted to twenty minutes, unless the time is extended by a vote of the society. The critic is appointed a week before and is expected to study up the subject, and criticism includes the subject, subject matter, facts, arrangement, mode of treatment, and experimental treatment and details. A Scientific Reporter is also appointed fromm time to time, whose duty it is to examme carefully the scientific and other periodicals for
items of interest, and call the attention of the society to them by verbal statements, written abstracts, or experiments. There are other provisions of an equally practical character, including the division of the society into sections, one of which, on photography, has the matter of the photographic publications of the society in charge. The published list of these includes in addition to views of the College grounds, &c., photographs of apparatus, of scientific men, of charts, &c. Under supervision of the committee on lectures, music was, on one occasion, during a public lecture, received from Philadelphia, and at another the phonograph was exhibited and explained.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the constitution is, however, the provision for an officer called the Director. The Professor of Chemistry fills this place ex-officio. This is a piece of mechanism to carry the organization past dead points. If the society intermits from any cause, or its organization becomes deranged, the power is lodged with him to call meetings for reorganization, &c., as well as to call extra meetings when the interests of the society may require. Many a society of similar character has passed quietly out of existence for want of just some such provision.
A prize, called the Scientific Society's Prize, is given to the member of the Senior Class who may give the fullest and most scientific account of experiments made upon some subject selected by the Society.
The lectures before the society by the students, which are reiquired as part of the course, have a discipline peculiarly their own. He is expected to select his subject from a list suggested by the professor, or elsewhere if he desires, to make himself master of it, to select his mode of treatment, prepare his notes, make out a list of his experiments, put in a requisition for the apparatus needed, and after he has done all that can be expected of him, his mode of treatment may not be the best, the experi-
ments selected may not be well adapted to it or to each other, and the apparatus may be ideal rather than practical, but what he presents is his own, and its preparation will have involved an excellent discipline, and form a basis upon which advice and instruction may be given without enfeebling. Its delivery from notes alone, with the manipulatory details, tends to develop the power of many sided attention as well as readiness in expression.
The careful examination of the leading scientific periodicals, and the study of such articles, especially of original research, as fall within the student's range of acquirements, is encouraged not only on account of their superiority in freshness and interest to the text-book, but because of the familiarity thus produced, with the style in which original investigations and observations of any character are best narrated.