by Pat McShea, Program Officer: Education, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
This spring’s Creek Connections Student Research Symposium at Allegheny College was a good showcase for Learning to See, Seeing to Learn. The April 5 event drew students from more than twenty high schools and middle schools in western Pennsylvania and western New York to the Campus Center building of the Meadville college for a five-hour program of research presentations, interactive displays, focus group activities, and an awards ceremony. (See: https://sites.allegheny.edu/creekconnections/ )
As an educator representing Carnegie Museum of Natural History, I spent the day promoting the macroinvertebrates website at a table that was part of a larger resource fair in the Campus Center lobby. The table displayed two iPads for visitors to explore the site, a set of macros embedded in Lucite cubes, a traditional Riker mount of pond macros, a field microscope, and a stack of promotional postcards.
During the course of the symposium I spoke with, and handed-out postcards to approximately 100 people, a mix of middle school and high school students presenting their projects, the teachers of those students, Allegheny College students and faculty, and representatives of other organizations participating in the symposium, including the University of Pittsburgh’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, French Creek Valley Conservancy, PA Lake Management Society, PA Bureau of Forestry (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources), and the Crawford County Conservation District.
Some table visitors were particularly impressed by set-ups on the paired iPads -- one screen fully zoomed-in on the abstract art-like image on the “setal fan on a proleg” of a net-spinning caddisfly, the other featuring a whole-body image of the tiny beast.
by Jamie Dorst, REU, CMU Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Recently, I've been working on more order level sheets since the Trichoptera order level sheet was such a hit at the November Stroud training. I created two more: one for Plecoptera and one for Ephemeroptera. It was a fun challenge trying to create these layouts, since each order varied in terms of number and size of specimens and amount of copy text. I also revised the initial version of the Trichoptera sheet, and put the insects on a gray background so they look better. Here are the latest versions! They'll be available for download soon on the Resources page.
by Helen Schlimm, Community Science Specialist, Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM)
Macroinvertebrate samples are a great learning tool for all ages!
Recently, the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, used CMU’s lucite macro samples and the macroinvertebrates.org website for two awesome educational experiences. ALLARM taught a short course on PA Streams at a local library with the Institute for Lifelong Learning program. The macro samples were the highlight of the final class (stream health 101), where participants identified the bugs under a microscope and used the site on the screen to see high quality pictures and make better determinations. People were amazed to see the diversity of bugs that could be found in their streams!
The macro samples were a big hit at our second event, the finale of the Conodoguinet Creek Snapshot monitoring series. Volunteers throughout the Conodoguinet watershed in Cumberland County sampled water quality and came to ALLARM’s space to test their water and engage in hands-on watershed education activities. The macroinvertebrates and microscopes featured prominently, and participants of all ages enjoyed identifying the macros and learning about the role they play in watershed health. The samples and the website are fantastic tools for community engagement and education, and everyone had lots of fun exploring them as well!
An interdisciplinary team