‘Stick Insects In Class’ wins Science Communication award



Pupils looking at the stick insects in their classroom
‘Stick Insects In Class’ wins Science Communication award
post by
Reinout Verbeke
Two entomologists from our Institute have won an award from the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. The Academy praised their citizen science-project ‘Stick Insects In Class’ for its originality.

In 2015, entomologists Jérôme Constant and Joachim Bresseel trained children from 3 primary schools to be citizen biologists. They gave the pupils an introduction to taxonomy and installed a terrarium with a not yet described species of stick insect from Cambodia in the classroom. For two months, the students observed the behaviour of the remarkable insect. They also voted for a name: Lopaphus apsara (apsara are traditional Cambodian dancers). Their observations will be part of  upcoming scientific article on stick insects in Cambodia and Vietnam by Constant and Bresseel.

I Spy With My Little Eye...

‘Children are more open-minded than adults’, explains Jérôme Constant to Iedereen Wetenschapper, the citizen science platform of the popular science magazine Eos. ‘We don’t have the time to study 150 new species in the lab. In the classroom, the terrarium is watched by at least a few children at all times. And twenty children sometimes see other things than scientists. Thanks to the curiousness and fascination of the children, we could collect data that would otherwise be impossible. We have learned, for example, how many eggs a female insect stick of this species lays on average, and which local plants they prefer. These are great additions to our paper. The project also teaches kids how important inventory checking is in the conservation of biodiversity.’ Constant did the same project with two classes in South Korea, by giving instructions via webcam.

Around thirty other researches who communicate about their work in a clear and original way, receive praise for their efforts from the academy. The award ceremony will be held in the Academy Palace in Brussels on the 14th of November. In 2013, our colleague and ornithologist Didier Vangeluwe received the award for his successful project ‘Falcons for everyone’.

Eos gives an audience award to the winner of this online poll. Please give our project your vote!

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