2006-11-22 / News

Entomology is lots of fun in grade 2

By Donna K. Drago

Wells Gregory and Eliza Kallfelz show off their collection of mealworms that are being studied in their grade 2 classroom. Photo by Donna Drago Wells Gregory and Eliza Kallfelz show off their collection of mealworms that are being studied in their grade 2 classroom. Photo by Donna Drago They spew words like metamorphosis and entomologist, study their subjects under a magnifying glass, and record observation notes in their scientific journals. They publish papers about their findings in the study of insects. If adult scientists in lab coats in the science department at a university, or wildlife managers working for the state Department of Environmental Management come to mind, think again. These scientists are in grade 2 and having a great time pursuing the study of such insects as mealworms, waxworms, and butterflies.

Madison Hodrick and Sophie Primiano, both 7, in Carrie Melucci's class, published papers on the painted lady butterfly-several of which lived in their classroom for a few months.

Primiano said she learned that the butterfly eggs are "really, really sticky," and explained that the reason for the stickiness is that when a butterfly lays eggs, usually under mallow leaves, the egg must remain in place for quite a long time and it has to stick tight or the new butterflies won't make it. Hodrick said she enjoyed watching the various stages of the butterfly and found it fascinating "when they shake off their old skin," and then pump their wings to try them out. She described the various parts of the butterfly, using all the proper terminology, like "proboscis" for the curled up tongue of the butterfly.

Is the painted lady their favorite insect? "No," said Hodrick, who prefers the mealworm because "they're cute," she said, noting "they're fun too!"

Mealworms? Fun?

Next door in Linda Rezendes'classroom, kids there were studying their mealworms. Each had a mat on their desk and took out their worms, which live in a plastic vial filled partially with cornmeal, their favorite food, apparently.

Students were using their magnifying glasses to study their worms, which go through several stages, eventually becoming adult darkling beetles. Alexandra Trousilek said "we like to play games with them," and Wells Gregory added, "It's fun to race them, too." He noted that among

his observations is that "they are fastest when they're about to molt for the last time."

The worms have names. Eliza Kallfelz said hers are "Josh and Sam," and Isaac Spivack calls his "Wallace and Grommit."

Mrs. Rezendes said the students received kits that contained the larval mealworms, along with the magnifying glasses and that they will continue to study the insects until about mid-December, when the insect unit ends. The science curriculum stretches across several disciplines, Rezendes explains. Students do scientific observation, read books about insects and write papers about them as well. On the board that day as part of the group insect lecture, Rezendes had students graph their observations about mealworms on the board, which brings math into the mix as well.

Rezendes said that the students will continue to study the worms' lifecycles through mating and laying eggs for a new generation

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