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.
An interdisciplinary team