Because therevid flies and the study of systematics are not common everyday topics that the public encounters, members of the Therevid PEET team sometimes take advantage of opportunities to share their experiences and enthusiasm for the knowledge and science with school children, teachers, and parents. They have been mentors for young girls considering careers in science or scientific illustration, helping lessen the discrepancy between men and women entering scientific careers. Their efforts may or may not light a spark that will one day flourish into a future scientist or even entomologist, but their example encourages an understanding of the important role science plays in our society.

Community Youth Creative Learning Experience

David Yeates stands, two students are seated

CYCLE participants came from Chicago for a one day program at the Illinois Natural History Survey on Saturday, May 2, 1998. Members of the therevid PEET team put together a program for three groups of CYCLE participants, ranging from grades 3-8, answering the questions “What is taxonomy?” and “What do taxonomists do and why is it important?”

GEMS: Girls in Engineering, Math, & Sciences

GEMS is a mentoring program that connects people working in the sciences and in technological fields with primarily middle school young women to get and keep them interested in engineering, math, and the sciences. The program exposes them to potential careers beyond the traditional medical fields that many students think of when they consider the sciences. Schools in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois, coordinated through the Franklin Science Center, have received funding through the National Science Foundation for this program.

Beatrix Potter

J. Mari Metz in costume as Beatrix Potter in a classroom

Looking toward the future, but in the garb of the past, J. Marie Metz, with help from Carie Nixon, Amanda Buck, and Mark Metz, plays Beatrix Potter in a program for sixth and seventh grade GEMS students. Adorned in 19th century garb, Marie teaches young women about Potter’s life and scientific accomplishments. Activities such as scientific illustration, field journals, and Potter’s early efforts in conservation impart to young women that they too can play a vital role in the sciences.

Learning What it Takes to do Scientific Illustration

In another GEMS program involving three eighth grade girls from Franklin and Urbana Middle Schools, J. Marie Metz worked with them for 6 mornings throughout the spring of 2000 on a more in depth introduction to scientific illustration. The girls also toured the fly (Diptera) taxonomy lab of Mike Irwin where graduate students Mark Metz, Kevin Holston, and Martin Hauser are working on dissertation research on stiletto flies.

J. Marie Metz, Mark Metz, & Gail Kampmeier attended the GEMS Recognition Ceremony for all of the area GEMS programs, which was held at Edison Middle School in Champaign, IL on 17 May 2000. They beamed proudly as their mentees spoke on stage of their experiences in the program with scientific illustration, and clapped wildly as they got their certificates.

Insect Expo

Mark Metz kneels by several children near a poster

A number of team members have interacted with members of the public, particularly children, in Insect Expos (see Mark Metz left with “Taxonomy for Tots”).

Kampmeier on Becoming an Entomologist

Gail Kampmeier presented the talk: “Becoming an Entomologist: The long way, the short way, many ways to become involved in the sciences” at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on April 15, for a teens program sponsored by the Chicago Academy of Sciences. She travelled there with Michael Vodkin, also a scientist in the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Center for Economic Entomology, who spoke to the teens about careers in molecular biology.

Kristin Algmin Teaches Boy Scouts About Entomology

Boy Scouts in New Lenox learned about the diversity and importance of insects with Kristin Algmin in June 2003. With the help of visual aids such as personal and borrowed insect collections, educational posters from the Illinois Natural History Survey, and leftover praying mantis nymphs from the Entomology Department at the University of Illinois, the session proved to be fascinating and fun for everyone involved (including parents!).

Therevid Websites Featured on ACS Gallery of NSF Projects

In honor of the National Science Foundation’s 50th anniversary, the Association of Systematics Collections has sponsored a virtual gallery of NSF-funded projects. Four of the featured projects are from the Illinois Natural History Survey including our Therevid PEET project. The projects have one-page summaries and then links to websites for the projects.

Paxton Class Introduced to Insect Soup

Mark Metz speaks to several students in a classroom

On 3 May 2000, the therevid PEET group (Martin Hauser, Kevin Holston, Gail Kampmeier, Mark Metz, Jill Mullett, and Mike Irwin) hosted Paula Williamson’s sixth-grade class from Paxton. The class took a tour of the lab, including scientific illustration, drawers of cool insects, and looking through the microscope. They got to think about careers in entomology or the sciences in a presentation by Gail Kampmeier. But the highlight that delighted them most was to go through insect “soup” as Mark Metz took them through the basics of keying some of their findings.