Girls in Engineering Workshop Captures Her Imagination

For my daughter, the best part of a Saturday spent crafting a paper bridge, creating a water-powered crane, and making her own electric quiz game was, “everything.”  Ten years old, she joined about 60 other girls for the fourth annual Wow! That’s Engineering! program coordinated by the local Society of Women Engineers earlier this year.

girls in engineering hydroliftThe outreach program encourages girls in engineering by engaging them in hands-on activities.  This year, the girls constructed devices representing various engineering fields.  The girls were separated into small groups, those who knew each other well were put into different groups to encourage bridges of friendship in addition to the paper bridge design contest in which they took part.

“I really enjoyed the electricity game we made,” Sweetie shared.  “We made these circuits and if you get the right answer, a light will come on.”

My daughter wants to be an engineer one day and with many adult friends who are engineers themselves, she has a lot of mentors.  A day spent with peers exploring her area of interest, however, was a special opportunity.  She most enjoyed creating the paper bridge.  She went into the activity with confidence because she had previously built a very strong toothpick bridge for a homeschool science fair years ago. At the Wow! That’s Engineering! workshop, however, the set up was different.  Each girl was given a few pieces of paper and a handful of paper clips to build a bridge that could hold 100 pennies.  Having experienced a similar scenario, Sweetie was convinced her design would win.

When it came down to the test, the girls were presented with a problem.  Thy had been told they would be spanning a gap of about 8 inches, but when they measured the test site found that the estimate was 2 inches too small.  “We threw in that twist to make it more real,” the volunteer said. “We’ll go out to a site, and it’s different than what we were told.”

Sweetie’s friend also attended the Wow! That’s Engineering! workshop. She was proudly holding her Hydrolift, a wooden crane the size of a tea kettle that used two syringes as pumps to raise and lower rocks, when my husband came to pick up the girls.

“I want to come back ’cause it’s fun,” the girls said. “I love it.”

The Society of Women Engineers offers outreach programs for girls interested in engineering all over the country.  Visit their website and find a workshop nearest you.

 

National Moth Week 2013

Many of you will be interested in knowing that between July 20 and July 28, in backyards, woods, and fields around the world, citizen scientists will be setting up white sheets and lights for the second annual National Moth Week.   This global science project began a year ago to encourage the public to observe and document one of nature’s most diverse creatures. Through partnerships with major online biological data depositories, National Moth Week participants can help map moth distribution and provide needed information on other life history aspects around the globe.  If you are participating in my Introductory Entomology online course, this is the perfect opportunity for you to engage in meaningful, hands-on science.

national-moth-week2013smallPartner with Real Scientists

National Moth Week has many partner organizations that are repositories for data and photos about moths. These include Project Noah and BugGuide, among many others. Last year, these partner organizations received more than 3,500 submissions as a result of National Moth Week moth spottings!  You can participate too–just take photos of the moths you see, and upload them to one of the partner organizations with location and other data.

Identification Skills Not Required

You don’t have to identify your moths–they have experts that will help–but it would certainly be a great learning opportunity to try.  I challenge you to try your hand at identification–at least to the family level.  The photo you upload with your observations lets a specialist confirm ID.  The information gathered through citizen science projects like this is used to compile species checklists and distribution maps. The data, over time, becomes an invaluable record of species distribution. Science at its best!

Host a Moth Night of Your Own

So invite a few friends and contribute to this awesome project by hosting a moth night of your own.  What happens at a moth night? Basically, you put up a sheet and a light with a bunch of your friends, and sit around and wait for moths.  How simple is that?  And it is so much fun!

 

Entomology Unit Study Wrap-up

The past six weeks have been a lot of fun!  I am throughly enjoyed teaching the online Introductory Entomology Unit Study course.  As it is a self-directed course, the participants are continuing to work through the material at their own pace.  Access to the online materials shared via Google Docs will remain until the end of September (some for longer), so do not feel pressure to get through the material quickly.

entomology unit study

Entomology Unit Study eBook Now Available

I am excited to share that I have compiled all the activities and lessons I shared through this online course into one comprehensive unit study.  The Introductory Entomology Unit Study eBook includes all the lessons, notebooking pages, reference pages, and printables that were used in this course along with several bonus notebooking pages, handouts, lab activities, and a list of resources.  This eBook is available for only $9.90.

praying mantisImplementing the Lessons

Along the way, I have shared numerous posts providing glimpses into how I have implemented the lessons with my own children.  I have also shared links to samples of student work and other resources available in hopes of inspiring you and your children as you undertake a study of insects.

Entomology Course Outline

Week #1 – Insects in Art

Week #2 – Insect Collecting

Week #3 – Insect Survey for Kids

Week #4 – Insect Projects for Kids

Week #5 – Integrated Pest Management

Week #6 – Insect Inquiry

Many families will be continuing their entomology unit study through the summer. As always, I encourage you to share your own insect discoveries and student projects with us.  We would love to see your work!  Simply upload to our Flickr group or post a link in the comments. 🙂

 

Introductory Entomology Lessons for Kids – Unit Study

Insects are so fascinating and are the most diverse group of animals on earth!   There are more species of insects than there are all other species combined. Their numbers are nothing short of remarkable, both in terms of the numbers of individuals as well as the number of species.

Introductory Entomology is a great way to keep the kids engaged in meaningful and fun science activities all summer long!  Everything is laid out in a simple and easy to follow manner – older kids will be able to do the lessons on their own!

entomology lessons for kids preview

Insect Lessons for Kids

In this 40-page unit study, students will be introduced to this remarkable subphylum (Hexapoda –  a group commonly referred to as hexapods and whose members have six legs) through hands-on activities, real life simulations, and multi-media presentations. The six-week unit incorporates more than 10 entomology lessons for kids and suggested extension activities.

I have to admit that this unit is one of my most favorites. Kids are naturally drawn to insects and have little inhibitions for the six-legged creatures.  In this unit study, I outline my favorite lessons and activities for exploring insects with your children or in your classroom.

Included in this unit study about bugs:

  • Full color overview
  • 11 notebooking pages
  • 11 printable handouts (student reference pages)
  • Detailed description of each step needed to teach every lesson
  • Links for exclusive videos and access to insect data compiled
  • Illustrated suggestions to build your own collecting tools
  • Links for collecting supplies and printed resources
  • Access to a closed Flickr group to share work and collaborate with others
  • Extension activities for all lessons
  • 2 long term projects

Available for only $9.90  

Introductory Entomology

Entomology Week #5 – Integrated Pest Management

I love this activity.  Not only does it provide a great opportunity to engage the kids in a cooperative learning activity, it also provides me with a fascinating glimpse into their world – how they think about things and how they have processed previous lessons.  Titled Integrated Pest Management, the lesson begins with a mini-lesson on the life-cycle of the mosquito.  We have observed the mosquito larvae on a nature outing in the past, Mosquitos: Summer Nature Study, so they had a great deal of prior knowledge.

Integrated Pest Management activity for kidsI then introduced the simulation … a local farmer has a problem with the mosquito population and needs their help to control the species using Integrated Pest Management techniques.  I share what that means and provide a few examples.  I then give them a map of the farmers property and ask that they work together to generate suggested strategies.  As they record their ideas, we discuss the pros (why this strategy could work) and cons (what other harm could this strategy cause) of each strategy.

It is amazing to me some of the ideas they come up with and the ideas they toss out of contention because of the potential harm it could cause other species.

Here’s a partial list of their ideas:

  • Install bat nesting boxes
  • Put a net over the pool when not in use
  • Install a filter system on the live stock water troughs
  • Get rid of the invasive blackberries

How about you?  Did you all come up with other ideas?  Why would removing invasive blackberries be beneficial?

If you are looking for more hands-on ideas and lessons about insects, I have compiled a number of my favorites in a unit study approach, Introductory Entomology. Through hands-on activities, real life simulations, and multi-media presentations this six-week unit incorporates more than 10 entomology lessons and suggested extension activities.

California Dragonflies .. Field Guide Giveaway

Dragonflies are one of the most colorful and fascinating insects in the natural world, so it’s not surprising that there are folks out there who stalk them with the same fervor as birders.  A leading dragonfly stalker in California is a woman named Kathy Biggs.  She has  published a field guide called Common Dragonflies of California, filled with full color, close-up photos of this incredible insect.

12-Spotted Skimmer - Libellula pulchella

Photo by Roxanna Tessman

California Dragonflies

So far 118 dragonfly species have been found in California. Shasta County is home to 77 species, the highest count of any county in the state. Siskiyou County is not far behind with 69.  Biggs says this high dragonfly count in our part of the state is due to a number of factors that include more water sources and a relative abundance of undeveloped land. Dedicated dragonfly enthusiasts are drawn to the northern part of the state to find species they can’t find elsewhere, like the dragonfly known as the American Emerald which has bright green eyes.

Eight-spotted Skimmer - Libellula forensis

Photo by Roxanna Tessman

Summer is the peak season for viewing dragonflies – just bring along an insect net, binoculars, and a hand lens for close-up observations. Unlike butterflies and moths that have scales on their wings, the dragonfly can be trapped in a butterfly net and gently lifted out by its wings without causing harm.

Biggs has also written an eGuide, Dragonflies of California and the Greater Southwest A Beginner’s Guide, that can be used on a mobile device like the iPad, Kindle, or a smart phone.  In addition, she has created an educational coloring book used equally by kids and adults, Dragonflies of North America: A Color and Learn Book With Activities.

I was graciously given a copy of Common Dragonflies of California for this review and giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The dragonfly photos featured in this post were taken by Roxanna Tessman.  Like her Facebook page, Bird Watching in Oregon, to see more of her stunning photography.