Members of Aggie Women in Entomology Helped Sixth Grade Girls Get Interested in STEM and Entomology

Joanie King talking to students in a classroom.

Joanie King teaching participants of the Expanding Your Horizons outreach program about termites. Photo by Rob Williams

Sixth grade girls statewide had the chance to expand their horizons in science and entomology as members of the Aggie Women in Entomology helped to increase interest in STEM fields during Expanding Your Horizons on Saturday, December 2.

This event allows girls in the sixth grade the chance to experience the various areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through interactive lectures and hands-on activities taught by both faculty and student volunteers.

During each 45-minute session, grad students and Aggie Women in Entomology members Jocelyn Holt, Alex Payne, Chloe Hawkings, Karen Poh, Joanie King, and Samantha Sawyer began the sessions by introducing themselves to the participants and showing them their research interests and told them about their favorite insects.

Alex Payne showing participants how beekeepers use their tools to manage hives.

Alex Payne showing participants how beekeepers use their tools to manage hives. Photo by Rob Williams.

Each session also included on general insect biology and anatomy and demonstrated biodiversity in insects by allowing them to view different pinned insects from the Department’s teaching collection.

Some of the hands-on demonstrations included learning about honey bees and honey production, cockroaches, termites, and flies. After the hands-on demonstrations, the participants asked questions from the “Ask an Entomologist” members via Facebook video chat and a chance to sample some food with insects included.

Hawkings enjoyed teaching the girls during the event and said it was a great opportunity for them to learn about entomology and spark their interest in science.

“I think it’s great to educate the girls about the opportunities for them in STEM fields and to let them know that girls are awesome at science,” she said. “The girls were really excited to see and interact with live insects and see the variation of studies conducted by PhD women here.”

Members of the "Ask An Entomologist" answered participants' questions during the question and answer section. Photo by Rob Williams

Members of the “Ask An Entomologist” answered participants’ questions during the question and answer section. Photo by Rob Williams

Payne said the girls learned a lot from her and the other volunteers.

“I really had a great time working with other Aggie Women in Entomology members at the Expanding Your Horizons conference this past weekend!” Payne said. “The sixth grade girls that attended our workshop are at a very impressionable age where we can show them that insects are cool and not ‘just a boy thing’; to like and study. It was really rewarding to see the girls learn and try new things and say things like how they weren’t as afraid of insects anymore.”

Poh said the volunteering was a very rewarding experience for her and she was pleased with the turnout and with the amount of engagement the girls gave the group.

“I felt like we really got the girls to be engaged in science and specifically in entomology,” she said. “Some girls probably didn’t know what entomology was, so we provided a nice introduction to get them interested in entomology. By the end of the section, all of the girls had a greater appreciation for insects and I really think we got them excited about the sciences in general.”


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