November Latin at Lower Lab



Our school vocabulary champion is currently a first grader with more than 1300 words! Clark’s accomplishment shows how hard work and dedication can make even the youngest into a titan of learning.

With the younger grades we continued our study of Latin zoological terms.

We learned a dozen scientific names for animals this month. Here are some highlights:

— vertebrates vs. invertebrates, arthropods vs. gastropods

— Why are cows, sheeps and goats polygastric (POLY many GASTR stomach)?

—  The scientific name for turkey is “chicken peacock” (gallopavo = GALLO chicken + PAVO peacock). Can you guess why scientists thought this an appropriate name? (hint at the end of the blog!)

— The inchworm is the caterpillar of an animal called a “geometer moth” (GEO earth + METER measure), named for how it seems to measure the ground as it walks. Fun fact: the mathematical discipline of geometry gets its name from its early usage in measuring the angles of shadows to measure the size of the earth.


There are about 6 stages of high-school Latin. We are currently beginning stage 3:

stage 1 indirect statement and indirect question
stage 2 conditionals
stage 4 relative clauses
stage 5 ablative absolutes
stage 6 participles

We continue our study of the mythology of the solar system, focusing on Pluto and Mercury this month.

We learned of Charon, the ferryman of the river Styx who gave his name to Pluto’s satellite.

We learned of Sisyphus and his never-ending task. Students were asked to classify a school task as sisyphean and “keeping the classroom clean” and “sharpening pencils” were the most popular candidates.

We learned of Mercury, the swift messenger god, who gives his name to the fastest moving planet in our solar system.

His double snake staff was (apocryphally) associated with healing properties and thus it has become the symbol of our medicine, ambulances and the sanitation department.

the GALLOPAVO (GALLO chicken PAVO peacock)