With the help of the US Forest Service, Alys, Maddie, and Todd brought students of Ludlow Taylor Elementary in Washington D.C. on a live virtual Insect Zoo tour and provided a very fun and interactive presentation on Brood X Cicadas, metamorphosis, and butterfly migration to school children in their special education classrooms. The bug race finale was a real winner with the kids as they all came off mute to cheer on their favorite bug! Maria, Sankara, and Todd made similar presentations to kindergarten students in Lincoln Avenue Elementary School in Orange, New Jersey and separately for Commodore John Rodgers School in Baltimore City for their Living Classrooms afterschool BUGS program. All were major successes earning heaps of praise from very grateful educators and students.
We also attended events in-person when reasonably safe to do so. This includes the Insectival at the Anne Marie Sculpture Garden in Solomon Island Maryland, near the southern edge of the state. Kelsey, James, Sankara, and Todd took a car full of live bugs, and were later joined by Maggie and her family. We worked in shifts for many hours delighting members of the public by helping them touch and hold bugs, many for the first time. This fall Darsey, Ebony, Praise, and Todd hosted a live in-person presentation in Dietz Park in Hyattsville for a class from Silver Oak Elementary.
Working with the Forest Service we provided a reverse field-trip to the DC Bilingual School. Angela, Demian, Sankara, and Todd set up stations of live arthropods outside on school grounds and made presentations to the schoolchildren as they rotated between stations. Ebony made beautifully decorated bilingual name cards for the bugs so students could learn their names in Spanish and English. This was a difficult event because we all had to yell over the noise of construction on the street nearby. Nevertheless, it was very rewarding to observe students become fond of insects in the very short time of our presentations. Our program culminated with a bug race held on a blue tarp race track. The bugs moved very quickly to the finish line as the children screamed and shrieked in delight!
Finally, Todd, Maddie, Ebony, Sankara, Adelaide, and Elizabeth took a field trip to Rockview Elementary School to talk shop with 100 students. Maddie, decked out from head to toe in bug fashion, and Todd gesturing wildly, cockroaches in hand, presented to the class about the parts of insects, metamorphosis, pollination, parental care, and social insect behaviors. Afterwards, students got hands-on experience with University of Maryland’s Insect Zoo. The young scientists in training asked tons of thoughtful questions as they observed and held beetles, walking sticks, millipedes, hissing cockroaches, and tarantulas. The day went almost flawlessly except for a brief moment when Rosie went for a wild ride on a flailing child’s shirt sleeve. The volunteers stuck around a little bit longer than scheduled to allow students with disabilities the chance to have a quieter moment with the insects. Shout out to all the teachers for inviting us and to our fabulous faculty, staff and students who enthusiastically increase awareness and appreciation of insects in our broader community!