Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Biodiversity Survey part 5: Making a Collection - Section 2: Making an Insect Collection

 

One of my most cherished memories from high school was doing a bug collection (not true bugs, as it were, any small arthropod would do) as part of Thomas Thomas' honors biology class (yes that was Mr. Thomas' real name).  

I hated the part where I had to kill the bugs in the cruelly crude "kill jar" I'd made from a cleaned out jar of pasta sauce, some cotton balls, and nail polish remover, but I absolutely LOVED the part where I was outside with the other members of my group wandering around a then-undeveloped lot after school, hoping to catch something "exciting" like a cool wasp.  

Looking back on it now, I think this experience was the driving force in my lifelong interest in biodiversity... I just couldn't believe how almost everything I caught in my net was different, diverse, and uniquely interesting from what I'd seen before.  In short, the experience helped me to gain a deeper appreciation for the wonder of our natural world, and essentially, that's what I hoped this project could do for my students.    

 

Since I had hated the killing insects part (in fact, not killing bugs is a rule in my classroom), I didn't want to require that my students do so, which is why I also gave students the option to make a plant collection or a field guide (a collection of photos and descriptions rather than actual specimens).  However, I must admit that I did like the part where I mounted the insects I had collected into a neatly organized and labeled display made from a cigar box, so I wanted to at least give my students the option to do so if they wished.    

"The ends justify the means" can be one of the most dangerous concepts imaginable in many cases, but if killing 10 innocent bugs in the 9th grade planted a seed of profound respect for biodiversity for a lifetime, I'd argue it held true in my case.

  Ewww gross... a bug collection?
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Ewww gross... a bug collection?
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Biodiversity Survey part 5: Making a Collection

Unit 6: Biodiversity
Lesson 7 of 9

Objective: Students will be able to complete their work on the biodiversity survey project by creating a tangible product to showcase their observations and write a thoughtful reflection on the experience of being an amateur naturalist

Big Idea: A tangible product helps to tie up the loose ends of a long term project

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