Interested in exploring entomology, the study of insects? Dive into The Walking Classroom’s Science Career Series and you can meet Jason Cryan, Ph.D. Dr. Cryan, an entomologist, also happens to be the Deputy Director and Chief of Research and Collections at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
The podcast with Dr. Cryan is easily accessible. Download it for free via our website, or listen on WalkKits in three of The Walking Classroom’s program offerings (4-#94, 5-#100, STEM-#53). You can even hear it on The Walking Classroom’s mobile app, which is free to use through August 31, 2020!
With a bachelor’s degree in zoology, and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in entomology, Dr. Cryan knows bunches about bugs! His primary area of interest is plant-feeding insects, especially those in the sub-order Auchenorrhyncha, commonly known as “hoppers”! These miniature vegetarians include plant hoppers, spittlebugs, froghoppers, and treehoppers.
Although insects come in different sizes, these cold-blooded critters do have some common characteristics. Insects all have a three-part body, and three pairs of legs (Do the math! That’s six legs!). They also have compound eyes and one pair of antennae. These antennae are insects’ primary sensory organ, and allow them to touch, taste, hear, and smell! Could you imagine your hands, mouth, ears, or nose being able to do all of those things?
Start off with the podcast, then introduce your students to the insect world with some lesson plans and activities to increase their knowledge. Looking for visuals to support your lessons and make those small specimens more visible? Great images abound!
Further Explorations in Entomology
There are over one million insect species in the world today! Who knew? To find out more about many different insects (sorted by class), try out this online resource.
Or, if you’d rather have a resource that doesn’t reside on a screen, check out this free printable insect identification guide. It details the appearance, habits, and diet of over 50 of the most common insects. To help put things in perspective, the color images appear above a scale showing the insect’s actual size!
Now that you’ve got a class of experts, why not quiz them with a game of insect jeopardy? Or, if you find your crew inspired by all they’ve learned, use that newfound knowledge to engage in a creative pursuits. Try an insect art activity!
Categorizing and Classifying those Little Creatures
In the podcast, Dr. Cryan discusses the incredible diversity of the insect world. He explains how species get their names using taxonomy, the branch of science focusing on classification of organisms.
Clarify the concept of classification for your crew with a quick lesson and follow-up quiz. Then have your students explore the orders of insects on their own. If they are ready, jump right into things with an insect classification activity!