On Friday, January 12, King Middle School students converged at Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm to present the results of their recent insect-focused learning expedition, “Bug Mania.”
At the start of their presentation, the students delivered remarks describing the work they’ve been doing to learn more about insects and their important environmental functions. Take a look at their remarks below to get a feel for all the work they’ve done on their own and together with Maine Audubon.
As the students describe below, a key part of their presentation involved students creating videos on the importance of insects. Here’s an example of one of those projects, created by seventh graders Manal, Ryan, Jasper, Dayna, and Logan.
Kick-Off Field Trip
We kicked off our expedition at the BugMania exhibit in Augusta. We saw, explored, investigated and learned. There were so many interesting exhibits and some of us ate dried crickets that tasted like popcorn.
We worked hand-in-hand with Maine Audubon specialists and investigated insects of Maine. We broke into small groups to search for insects using four different methods. One of the methods we used was digging. Another was carefully combing through the grass. We also sifted thin layers of dirt onto paper plates. We put the insects we found into jars so that we could observe them. We collected insects and data in four different locations: Gilsland Farms, East End School, Evergreen Cemetery and Stroudwater. We recorded our observations. We also studied insects and their adaptations. We learned about insects, insect life cycles, metamorphosis, insect anatomy, how to use Apple Keynote and how to communicate our scientific information!
In math class, we collected data on how many insects were found on our field work. One of the patterns we discovered was that when temperature went up, the numbers of insects went down!
In Social Studies, King students dabbled in a variety of differing topics about insects. We began with discussing the uses of insects in food or for medical purposes. All of us answered the question, “How have insects impacted history” by studying events such as The Black Death, The Irish Potato Famine and the Yellow Fever. Then, we researched how our assigned insect was affected by climate change. In the end, we used what we had learned as a major component of our final product.
In Language Arts, each class was split into five book groups. Each book used insects as part of the plot whether they were a character or were a conflict that the characters faced. Throughout this section in our learning, we were taught about the definitions and contrasts between personification and anthropomorphism and looked deeper into what the author of the novel was trying to convey. After we had worked in depth with figurative language, we learned about how to write powerful poetry in a variety of formats. Then all of us wrote multiple poems about our insects based on our research and made sure to include our own creativity.
In Science, we learned how to find and observe insects in their natural habitats and worked in the field with the Maine Audubon staff at sites across Greater Portland. We learned to use iMovie and made short films about pollination. We studied the impact of human activity on insects and their reliance on native plants. We combined our knowledge of insects and worked to create educational movies for use in Maine Audubon’s nature centers.
We worked with many experts that helped us in the both the process of understanding the scientific information about entomology as well as the process of movie making. We very much appreciate this aspect of Expeditionary Learning because we were the recipients of collaborating with community experts, not only in the field, but also in the classroom.
The Final Product
We made an educational video about insects. The process of creating the videos was intense! First, we had to learn how to use iMovie. Then, we made a pollination video. Lastly, we teamed up with our group and started our final product. This was a great experience and we not only learned about entomology but we learned how to become videographers.
Science Summit and Expedition Day
We set aside two days which we called the “Science Summit” where we had the opportunity to share our work with experts along with other school staff. This led us to a first draft of our videos along with deeper knowledge of the material at hand. After that, we went through many stages of revision to end up with the professional final products. Our educational videos are designed to educate people about insects and their environments. We hope our work will encourage people to plant gardens that attract and sustain native wildlife.
Our final product is an iMovie that groups of students created to teach others about insects in Maine. We would like to present this set of 16 movies to the Audubon Education Center to be used in support of the “Bringing Nature Home” Initiative.
We’d like to take a moment to thank” Linda Woodard, Sue Brennan, Jon Wallace, Betsy Winslow, Arianna van den Akker, Geoff MacLean, and everyone from Maine Audubon and King Middle School that helped us put together and edit a high quality product like this. We appreciate everything we experienced during the BugMania expedition. Thank you for everything you did to make that possible.
King Middle School in Portland is an Expeditionary Learning School, meaning that they study one topic deeply for months. The unit becomes the content for each subject, enabling students to engage more deeply as they prepare a single culminating project and event which contributes to their community. Teaming up with King teachers helps Maine Audubon advance projects such as “Bringing Nature Home,” while also demonstrating the breadth and value of studying wildlife and habitat for Maine students. This project was generously funded by the Dorr Foundation.