After two fabulous years as the coach of the Food Science for my son’s school-based Science Olympiad team, SO cancelled that event. Say what?!? It’s my youngest son’s 8th grade year and I was looking forward to coasting in my third and final year coaching one of SO’s best, if not tastiest, events. Not truly coasting. My first year my event team placed 11th (maybe 16th?) at State and last year they came in 6th. We were going to crack the top 5 this year.
At any rate, now I’m coaching Science Olympiad entomology, i.e. bugs, insects and all things creepy crawly. Oh joy!
Actually insects are pretty fascinating as long as they keep their distance from me and stay out of my house unless invited in.
What I really dread about this event is that it’s a study event. Specifically, my team members will need to be able to identify a few hundred insects (from larva to nymph to adult) by order and family, not to mention know their habits and habitats and role in the larger ecosystem. So much memorization. It sounds so dull. I mean, it would be easy to simply drill them week after week, but ugh.
Although we cannot ignore the rote memorization required to succeed, I want to keep things as lively and interactive and possible.
So today, for our second practice, as we’re gearing up, I brought along Wilton’s Shape-N-Amaze Edible Modeling Dough, which I received as part of a special program and test kitchen tour I attended as part of BlogHer13. It’s part of a fairly new line that helps bakers add 3D elements to their kitchen creations.
When I first learned about I the dough, I sensed there could be some exciting STEM or STEAM applications. Last night as I was up with the pup at 3 AM (have I mentioned he hasn’t slept through the night since I returned from vacation on October 9? Sigh.), I had a brainstorm.
So today at entomology practice after reviewing the key characteristics of the phylum Arthropoda and class Insecta, my young charges made insect models. Note the compound eyes, jointed legs, wings, antennae, 3-segment bodies and six legs per critter. This turned out to be an useful activity or snacktivity as I like to say. In a Science Olympiad event that involves a lot of rote memorization, it’s nice to introduce hands-on activities whenever possible.
And then my dear students consumed them. It’s a sign of the times, people.
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