Janna identified a few insects for me that she was interested in teaching the kids: lacewings, aphids, assassin bugs, pirate bugs, praying mantis, and especially ladybugs. A great list! What kids wouldn't want to learn more about an assassin bug or a pirate bug?! So we set out to create some reference cards to illustrate each insect and also provide a cool fact or two about them. . Such as, did you know that aphids are a type of "alate"- that is an insect that can grow wings as the need may arise? In other words, when a host plant becomes overrun with aphids- the next generation of the aphids may be born with wings so that they can fly away and populate other plants. Nature is kind of cool that way. As the scientist character says in the movie Jurassic Park- "nature finds a way." I am attaching a slideshow of the insect reference cards. ( A special thanks go out to Bugguide.net contributors Tom Murray and Lynette Schimming for allowing me to use their photos of a Pirate Bug and Lacewing, respectively.)
The Children's Museum of the Shoals is a fantastic place! It is located at the entrance to Deibert Park. The design and decor of the building itself literally draws kids to want to stop in and explore. It is a building of bold, primary colors- which naturally draws attention- but what really gets the kids' attention- as well as adults- is the 20 to 30 foot catfish that adorns a tower wing of the museum. That catfish alone is reason enough for my six year old son to want to visit! But inside, it is even more cool. Almost all of the exhibits are hands on- with fossils, prisms, gravel pits, a river exhibit, tools, etc.- kids are encouraged to do, and touch- rather then- like at a lot of museums- look, but don't touch. Several of the parents commented to me how that their kids can spend hours in the museum without becoming bored or wanting to head right home. That is the best kudos that I can think of for the folks that operate the museum!
A huge thanks goes out to the folks at the Children's Museum of the Shoals and Master Garderner Janna Whitley for hosting such a great event!