Using bugs in the classroom helped Dr. Michele A. Korb, Department of Teacher Education, receive the Joshua E. Neimark Memorial Travel Assistance Endowment. This award will provide partial financial support for Dr. Korb to attend America's largest general scientific conference, the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where she will present her poster highlighting a science teaching strategy called "Bugscope", an unusual program to spark young children's interest in insects.
Through the Bugscope program, K-5 students and teachers can use an advanced electron microscope, or ESEM (environmental scanning electron microscope) to study insects and arachnids, Korb explained. Classrooms mail insects to the Bugscope program coordinators, then log onto an Internet browser to examine their prepared specimens by remotely operating the ESEM.
Professor uses insects to build inquiring minds at elementary schools
2010 Annual Meeting, 18-22 February, San Diego
Bugscope in K-5 Science Classrooms: Building Inquiring Minds
Michele A. Korb, California State University - East Bay, Teacher Education Department
Umesh Thakkar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
A National Science Foundation report coined the term “cyberlearning”
Results / Data Conclusion:
The preservice teachers in the study indicated the following applications of
and defined it as “learning that is mediated by network computing and
communication technologies” (Borgman, et al., 2008, p. 10). The report
Bugscope to K-5 classrooms and the California State Science Standards: Bugscope can be integrated in K-5 grades (Hadley & Korb, 2007). The
suggests that for students to learn how to publish, author, and curate Nature walks & insect habitats Insect & arachnid life cycles preservice teachers were able to realize the impact Bugscope could have
large volumes of data will require the skills of a data scientist. The in their K-5 classrooms, while meeting California State Science Standards
report also calls for teaching new computational skills (Wing, 2006). Predictions of insect appearance Creative writing based on Bugscope images (in the areas of Content and Investigation & Experimentation).
Mathematical ratios/ magnification Compare / contrast insects & arachnids
Bugscope, a cyberlearning project, welcomes students and teachers in Teacher Preparation:
K-12 and undergraduate classrooms from across the nation and Compare & contrast insect characteristics Identify misconceptions of insects in children’s literature
around the world to remotely access and control an environmental Scale & size relationships Insects in composting & waste reduction lessons • Inquiry skills to design meaningful learning.
scanning electron microscope in real time to study insects using a • Knowledge of science standards as they relate to Bugscope.
web browser on their computers. There is no cost to participate. • Computer skills (such as internet use and live communication).
Classrooms propose their own scientific investigation projects. Once • Ability to adapt cyberlearning opportunities into existing curriculum.
projects are scheduled, classrooms can mail in their specimens. The • Models of good pedagogy that achieves the above mentioned skills.
images students and teachers acquire are their own authentic data.
Each classroom session has a home page on the Bugscope website Challenges:
with links to all information connected to that session, such as Sample
Images & Live Interaction with Bugscope Experts Provide
classroom proposal, specimens used, and session transcript. The • Access to computers, confidence in using technologies.
images are contextualized within the session transcript to facilitate later • Classroom management –teaching strategies for the management of
review. Between 1999 and 2009, there have been Bugscope sessions Bugscope session. The teachers have provided the following ideas
from over 500 classrooms from over 45 U.S. states. Students and Grades K, 1 & 2 for classroom management:
teachers have acquired over 100,000 images. Bugscope is helping to Create stations where students can observe insects with hand
facilitate an interest in scientific enterprise (Ray, et al., 2008; Thakkar,
Content: Students know how to infer what • Magnification from 40x-20000x of insects & arachnids lenses and dissection scopes prior to or after a session.
et al., 2000). animals eat from the shapes of their teeth; Focus only on Bugscope in shorter sessions for several days.
individual species have variation. • Answers to student questions in real time Submit some questions ahead of time to Bugscope experts for
This poster represents a case study at California State University - East
Bay where multiple subject preservice teachers participated in a preparation or for follow-up to the live session.
Bugscope session as part of their science methods course.
Inquiry and Investigation: Students make new • Comparisons to insects drawing created with hand lenses
observations when discrepancies exist between reveal discrepancies & limitations in observations Acknowledgements
two descriptions of the same object or All members of the Bugscope team and the CSU Teacher Education credential candidates.
phenomenon; use hand lenses to describe detail. Student drawing compared to fly image
Borgman, C. L., Abelson, H., Dirks, L., Johnson, R., Koedinger, K. R., Linn, M. C., Lynch, C. A., Oblinger, D. G.,
Pea, R. D., Salen, K., Smith, M. A., & Szalay, A. (2008). Fostering learning in the networked world: The
Grade 3 cyberlearning opportunity and challenge. Report of the National Science Foundation Task Force on
Content: Students know plants and animals have • Information on spider body structures and behaviors
Hadley, K., & Korb, M. (2007). Through the Bugscope. Science and Children, 45(1) 29-31.
Students observing insects with hand lenses and structures that serve different functions in growth, Ray, A. M., Conway, C., Thakkar, U., Wallace, C., & Robinson, S. J. (2008). “What does that hair do?: Remote-
microscopes in preparation for a Bugscope session • Ways in which spiders benefit their environment
survival, and reproduction. access scanning electron microscopy and the Bugscope project.” American Entomologist, 54(4), 232-234.
Thakkar, U., Carragher, B., Carroll, L., Conway, C., Grosser, B., Kisseberth, N., Potter, C. S., Robinson, S.,
Sinn-Hanlon, J., Stone, D., & Weber, D. (2000). Formative evaluation of Bugscope: A sustainable world wide
Inquiry and Investigation: Students differentiate • Images of adaptations that insects and spiders have to laboratory for K-12. Paper presentation at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Research Association,
New Orleans, LA.
evidence from opinion and know that scientists do reproduce and survive
Wing, J. (2006). Computational thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3), 33-35.
• One-hour Bugscope sessions were conducted in three separate not rely on claims or conclusions unless they are
sections of elementary science teaching methods courses, Fall 2009. Spider spinneret and
backed by observations that can be confirmed. • Identification of misconceptions concerning insects and
conceptions in literature
• 79 students: ages 22-52; 66 females, 13 males, 4 Asian, 4 Latino/a, arachnids
2 African-American, 61 Caucasian and 7 Other. All preservice teachers
were teaching in grade school classrooms during this time.
• Trends in student ideas and critical thinking were collected from Grades 4 & 5
classroom experiences and assignments, reflections and Content: Students know decomposers, including • The importance of insects and arachnids in ecosystems
presentations of content connected to Bugscope.
many fungi, insects, and microorganisms, recycle
• Student activities included: matter from dead plants and animals; know • Images of structures such as spiracles and tracheae with
Preparing drawings of an insect before and after the session. organisms have specialized structures for scientific explanations of their functions
Gathering background information on an insect of choice transport.
regarding habitat, physical features, life cycle & role • Information for learning stations designed to foster inquiry Spiracle of a katydid
in the environment. and observational skills
Inquiry and Investigation: Follow a set of written
Completing reflections on how to use Bugscope in the K-5 instructions for a scientific investigation; record
classroom, how to manage the Bugscope session and
what the assets and challenges might be related to using a
data by using appropriate graphic representations • Visual and textual information for students to include in
cyberlearning format in grade school science lessons. and make inferences based on those data. graphic organizers, science notebooks and in charts
to show relationships between images and information
Designing a presentation that demonstrated cross-curricular
connections between science and other content areas
Full text of California State Science Standards:
(language arts, visual arts, mathematics) and imbedded http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/sciencestnd.pdf
images from the Bugscope session compared to their own
drawings and observations.