Entomology Course Outline

In preparation for the online Introductory Entomology course I am teaching in May, I thought you all might like a little peak into the activities we will be covering.  The online class integrates many entomology topics including insect classification for kids, an integrated pest management simulation activity, and hands-on, inquiry based projects.  Access to the YouTube videos, Flickr group, Google Docs, andProject Noah classroom will be made available to those that register.  Subscribe to our newsletter here – be sure to select the topics of most interest to you.  In the future, you can always find the Mail Chimp subscription form in the upper right corner of the sidebar.  In addition to the materials listed for each week, students should have a notebook or binder in which they can take notes, keep their work, and record their observations.

entomology course outline

Week One

  • Insect Symmetry art activity (private YouTube video); post completed work on Flickrgroup
  • Review Scientific Classification
  • Materials needed for the week include:
    • your choice of a paint canvas (any size 5″x5″ or larger), acrylic paints, and brushes  OR  a sheet of watercolor paper, watercolor paint, and brushes
    • graphite transfer paper

Week Two

  • Live Insect Observation
    • observe and record the physical characteristics and behaviors of a live insect; notebooking page will be provided
    • sketch your insect in your journal; use the diagram Insect Anatomy to help you to label your illustration
  • Introduction to Insect Collection  (long-term project); consider uploading images to my classroom on Project Noah
  • Using the Insect Dichotomous Key  (private YouTube video)
  • Materials needed for the week include:
    • a cricket (available at local pet supplies stores) or other insect of choice
    • optional field collection tools (instructions will be provided to build your own with household materials)

Week Three

  • Insect Classification for Kids: An introduction to the common insect orders – PowerPoint presentation & accompanying notebook page
  • Insect Data Collection – choose a local site and collect data on the species richness; share your results on the shared document
  • Materials needed for the week include:
    • optional field collection tools (instructions will be provided to build your own with household materials)

Week Four

  • Insect Life Cycles – watch the suggested videos
  • Insect Wings (optional lab)

Week Five

  • Integrated Pest Management activity 
  • Research Assign:  Find a local example of IPM & share with the group (consider writing a blog post, a newscast video, or creating an informative poster)
  • Materials needed for the week include:
    • local newspapers or magazines

Week Six

  • Hot Foot, Cold Feet activity (private YouTube video)
  • Share your Insect Collection project on Flickr group and/or a blog

If you should have any questions about the course, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Remember this is an online, self-directed workshop.  Participants will work through the assignments and lessons at their own pace when it is convenient to his/her schedule.

The NSTA Conventions :: Flashback Friday #1

I follow the National Science Teachers Association on Facebook and Twitter.  As a result, I have been seeing many posts this past week regarding the convention that is taking place in San Antonio this weekend.  I haven’t attended an NSTA convention in many years – I believe the last one was in 2002, a few months prior to the birth of my daughter.  As I read the tweets, I recalled how much I thoroughly enjoy conferences.  I thereby pulled out my journal and read a few entries (before I began blogging, I kept a hand-written journal).  Here is one I would like to share:

21 March 2001 
 
I have just attended my first National NSTA Convention (after attending a few smaller, regional and or state conventions).  It will certainly not be my last.  I  had a spectacular time and it has been even more special because Patrick was able to attend with me.   
 
The first day, like the other conventions I have attended, is a little overwhelming (trying to get organized, finding the location of the talks I am interested in, navigating the exhibit hall, etc).  Buzz Aldrin was the keynote speaker.  We had to wait in line for nearly two hours to enter the lecture hall (tickets were not distributed, it was first come, first served).
 
Just after we arrived, I realized that I had forgotten my copy of his book Men From Earth in our hotel room.  I was distraught as I had desired him to sign it.  Patrick, to my delight, was willing to ride back to retrieve it – a 1-hour bus ride – one way!  This meant he would miss Buzz’ address.  Patrick you are an angel!  Thank you for being there for me & coming to my rescue!
 
After Buzz’ address, I waited another hour for the book signing – needless to say, he wasn’t too happy to sign an old book.  He was there to push his newest title.  He signed my copy but was noticeably grumpy about it.  I heard later that he refused to sign a NASA lithograph a man had cherished since he was a little boy. 
 
The line waiting at the convention was very common.  I learned there were approx. 20,000 people in attendance.  Incredible! 
 
Thursday night, we attended a dinner in my honor at Cafe de France.  It was superb!  I ordered Greek Salad, Venison Steak with steamed veggies and potatoes, and Amaretto Cake.  Regrettably, I don’t recall all the details the server used to describe each dish.  Next time, I will be sure to write it down or request a keepsake menu.  [ I really do this now! I have quite a collection of menus. :) ]
 
The award coordinator for the CIBA Foundation, Lois Amend, was very classy.  It was a memorable occasion just meeting her.  I felt so comfortable in her presence – she was very humble and down-to-earth.  
 
On Friday, I did get a change to go to a couple of sessions and see many of the exhibits.  Surprisingly, even though there were four 160 page catalogs describing the activities (short courses, sessions, workshops, tours, and special events) there were few that were actually of interest to me.  Those I did desire to attend frequently conflicted with one another.  Disappointing yet I don’t believe that I’ll spend as much time in line at future conventions.  I spent another 2 hours Friday afternoon waiting to have Bill Nye sign a book – in retrospect, had I known he was going to address the Council for Elementary Science International (CESI) luncheon on Saturday – I would’ve waited.
I also participated in the NASA NEW Share-a-Thon on Saturday whereby past participants of the NEW workshops shared with prospective applicants activities and projects we had learned ourselves.  I was very nervous.  I had brought two activities to share:  film canister rockets (which turned out to be a familiar favorite for many) and Geometry of Moon Phases – a hit!  There were so many attendees, I ran out of handouts!  It felt really good to share my ideas with others.  Even other NEW alumni enjoyed the moon activity.  Wendall Mohling (NSTA Coordinator for NASA) and Christina Gorski were very appreciative of our participation and gave us small thank you gifts (NEW lapel pin, a patch, and a coffee mug).  Very Cool!
 
The highlight of the trip was above all the CESI luncheon on Saturday.  The council members were so genuinely excited to meet me.  I could not believe how special they believed me to be.  The CESI/CIBA award, I learned, is their highest honor.  When Patrick and I arrived, we were quickly ushered in (despite the huge line of people who had purchased tickets).  After we were shown our seats at a reserved table near the podium, I was quickly introduced to Barbara Morgan, the luncheon speaker and next teacher in space.  She was as excited to meet me as I was to meet her.  Everyone was giving me hugs and shaking my hand.  It was a little overwhelming.  When I looked over the luncheon agenda, I discovered that Bill Nye was also being presented an award.  My name was on the same agenda as his!! Wow! I am still in awe.  There were nearly 400 people at the luncheon including Connie & Bonnie (fellow JPL NEW alumni) … it was great to see them. 
When Barbara Morgan gave her address, she said, “Isn’t it wonderful to have bright, young people like Eva Varga teaching?”  I was so honored.  People I didn’t know were taking my picture as I was presented my award. As the luncheon came to a close, others came to shake my hand and congratulate me.  A retired woman even gave me the microscope she won during the raffle, “You’ll need this more than I, dear.  Besides, I don’t really want to pack it home.”  How delightful! :)
 
A few people even recognized me in the exhibit hall and came up to express their good wishes.  “Eva, you are such an inspiration.  Congratulations on your award.  You certainly deserve it.”  I never would have guessed the scale to which this award would be recognized.  I have truly been blessed.  The benefits will continue as the new relationships I’ve developed promise to open doors for me in the future.
 
In the word of Bill Nye, “Science teachers, like Eva Varga, are what keep the PB and J in teaching .. Passion, Beauty, & Joy.”

I share this with my readers in the hope that you will be inspired yourself to pursue your passions.  I have come to realize I miss this part of my life – the professional me.  I am thereby taking strides to bring her back.  Look forward to great things to come as I share my experiences and skills more regularly.

Have any of you attended conventions?  Perhaps a homeschool convention or blogging conference?  Perhaps you have attended conferences focused on specific interests or hobbies like stamp collecting, knitting, or jewelry.  I’d love to hear about your experience.

Dedication and Passion

When Sweetie started fly tying earlier this year, she learned of a scholarship opportunity to attend Fish Camp. She expressed interest in going to camp and talked of it frequently. Under the tutelage of experts, the young anglers learn the fundamentals of casting, fly fishing techniques, advanced fly tying, and outdoor skills through an award winning summer fly fishing camp located in Northern California. Surrounded by miles of private stream and fish-filled lakes that provide the ideal fresh-air classroom, the kids have a blast catching (and releasing) lots of trout on flies they tied themselves.

She thereby wrote two essays as a part of the application process and begged to go even if she didn’t win a scholarship. Yesterday, she received a call from one of the volunteers on the selection committee announcing that she had been selected. Knowing that she would be taking part in the fly fishing expo today along side her mentors, she was very excited; I doubt she slept much.

She has shared her winning essays on her blog. I encourage you to hop over and read about what she enjoys most about fly fishing and why she wants to go to camp.  She is pictured here with one of the local fly fishers and with another young angler who was also selected as a scholarship winner.

An Introduction to Entomology :: Free Online Workshop

When I was teaching in the public school, my favorite unit to teach was entomology.  Now that I homeschool, I have come to realize how much I miss teaching others and exploring our natural world together.  While my children and I actively engage in nature studies regularly, we have not been very consistent in incorporating more in-depth science studies into our curriculum.   I have discovered that I am more accountable when I provide opportunities to our fellow homeschooling community.  For this reason, I have decided to open this course to anyone interested in learning about insects along with us.

I have designed this unit so students will develop an appreciation for the diversity of insects in their local area as well as an understanding of the greater diversity the world over.  Participants will have the opportunity to use an identification or dichotomous key.  The course is open to all ages but the content is geared towards middle level students – parents and families are welcome to join in on the fun.  Any prior knowledge about insects is appreciated but not required.

The unit includes several labs and research assignments in addition to a long-term project. I will communicate weekly whereby I share videos and other media showcasing specific lessons and activities designed to teach insect anatomy, scientific classification, ecology, and inquiry.  I will also provide research suggestions, resources for study, and experiment ideas. 

See the course outline here, Entomology Course Outline

Participants will have the opportunity to participate in class discussions, contribute to data collection as citizen scientists, and do independent research on topics of interest.  Participants in the course are expected to keep a field journal or notebook of their work. Participants are also encouraged to come up with their own project ideas (videos, PowerPoints, art projects, field trips, photography, and more).

This free course will be six weeks in length and is scheduled to begin in May. For those interested in taking part, I ask that you subscribe to the Entomology Online Workshop newsletter via MailChimp.  You can find the subscription link in the right sidebar.  Upon receiving the verification email, you’ll want to click on “manage your preferences” and choose the list topics of interest to you; Entomology Online Workshop is listed as one option. I will then provide the necessary weblinks and/or pass codes required to access the course materials (via GoogleDocs, Flickr, and Project Noah) when the course begins next month.

Participants will have the opportunity to share documents via GoogleDocs, write blog posts (optional), and submit photographs of student work via Flickr.  Participants are also encouraged to collaborate with one another via my classroom on Project Noah.  Parents are expected to partner with younger children to read over and edit student presentations, checking for grammatical errors. Students working independently are asked to use spelling and grammar checks before submitting work. 

Each family or student that will be making home videos (strongly recommended) about class projects and activities should have a family or individual YouTube account. You can either use an already established account or start a new one for the class. Students wanting their own account must be 13 years old. Any videos made for class can then be uploaded to YouTube and the link given to me. Families are responsible for setting up desired privacy settings.



World Water Quality Monitoring Project

 Science and Service Learning have long been seamlessly intertwined in my life since I started teaching full-time.  Though I am no longer in a formal classroom, the two share an even larger part of my life.  Hands-on, real-life science comes naturally to me.  It is a major component of our daily living and learning.  We seek out opportunities to put our skills to work and to learn about the world around us in a natural way.  This is Unschooling at its finest.
wwmprojectOur Roots & Shoots group has been taking part in a great service learning opportunity called the World Water Monitoring Project for the past few years.  The international education and outreach program builds awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens in basic monitoring of local water bodies.
Upon learning how to collect water quality data with our group, the kiddos asked if we could purchase our own.  The cost of a Basic Kit (shipped to any location in the US) is just $13 plus shipping. At this price – I couldn’t pass it up!  We now carry the kit with us on all our nature outings and it has provided us the necessary tools to engage in meaningful, hands-on science.  I supplement the kit with other tools that I have used for years – including a Kestrel 3000 Pocket Wind Meter – a handheld weather-monitoring device that provides a wide range of functions.
projectwwm
We also make every effort to identify the little critters we capture in our nets.  Sometimes this is easier said than done, but dichotomous keys are helpful and we carry a few laminated ones with us.  We record our findings in a Rite In The Rain Journal.  When we return home, we upload our data to the  World Water Monitoring Project and if we’ve spotted critters, we upload images to Project Noah.

Our outings are more meaningful when we know that our data will be used to help the scientific community better understand our world.

Orienteering – An Introduction

Orienteering is a sport that requires skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain, and normally moving at speed. Participants are given a topographical map which they use to find control points.  Originally a training exercise in land navigation for the military, orienteering has developed many variations.
Orienteering began in the late 19th century in Sweden.  The actual term “orientering” (the original Swedish name for orienteering) was first used in 1886 and meant the crossing of unknown land with the aid of a map and a compass. In Sweden, orienteering grew into a competitive sport for military officers, then for civilians. The name is derived from a word root meaning to find the direction or location. The first orienteering competition open to the public was held in Norway in 1897.  Barnesklubb met last week for an introduction to the sport of Orienteering.  A simple pentagonal course was set up in a local park and the kids were given instruction on how to navigate using the compass.  The points were clearly visible and at each, a ‘clue word’ was recorded.  When the kids completed a four-point course, the words completed a sentence. This lesson is provided in my earth science curriculum, Earth Logic:  Our Dynamic Earth. It can also be purchased individually.

We are excited to take part in more elaborate Orienteering courses in the future. Perhaps you’ll join us?