This spring, Orkin teamed up with DonorsChoose.org to unearth the best buggy projects through the Orkin Start with Science Innovation Challenge. Orkin called on teachers across the country to submit their best ideas for using our many-legged friends as an avenue to learning, and a panel of insect experts chose the ten most creative projects. Meet the winning teachers!
Have a favorite project? Vote for it on Facebook, and you can help pick which teacher will win an additional $5,000 grand prize for their students!
Mrs. Hooten | Grades 3–5 | Bedford, IN
“The Lincoln Green Thumbs have created and tend to two large gardens, an orchard, and a Student-Centered Nature Learning Environment for our entire student body. Because some insects are so important for our gardens, I would like to focus on creating a range of insect habitats.”
To help her gardening club students learn about the importance of insects in nature, Mrs. Hooten requested resources to hatch and observe praying mantises and ladybugs, and catch and identify other insects. Students can take the tools and learnings from their gardening club home, empowering Mrs. Hooten’s young gardeners to become the insect experts in their household.
Mrs. Lee | Grades 6–8 | Fremont, NH
“My classes are spending the year learning about environmental and ecological issues. Entomophagy is an up-and-coming practice, that may offer impoverished nations sustainable food sources.”
As part of a yearlong learning experience on environmental and ecological awareness, Mrs. Lee requested bug viewers and a range of insect-based food sources, like bacon and cheese-flavored crickets and edible grasshoppers. Students will use these resources to learn about entomophagy — using bugs as a sustainable food source — as it specifically relates to Madagascar. Students will also be able to use the insect ingredients to cook their own recipes, like pancakes made out of cricket flour!
Ms. Livingstone | Grades 6–8 | Durham, NC
“Insects are remarkable, and exploring them in depth has become a tradition in our classroom. From the very first day of school, my students are looking forward to our springtime live insects projects.”
Ms. Livingstone requested live ladybugs, hissing cockroaches, and praying mantis eggs so her English Language Learner students can build a basis of knowledge before hunting for their own incredible insects. Ms. Livingstone’s students will then use the requested Kritter Keepers to catch the most interesting insect they can find around their house. Students will research the insects they found and create posters celebrating the “superpowers” of these bugs.
Mr. Gumpert | Grades PreK–2 | Los Angeles, CA
“Insect experiments, insect questions, insect observations, insect research, and insect-inspired stories will be part of this weekly report.”
Mr. Gumpert requested the resources his little learners need to launch a weekly YouTube series through their classroom channel, where students can report on everything happening in the insect world. Students will use screen capture software and microphones to record potions of their segments, and will use a synthetic grass carpet to create a realistic nature set from which to report.
Mrs. Pipes | Grades 9–12 | Wilkesboro, NC
“In a way, we have become the voices of the honey bees. Our area is primarily agricultural yet so few people in our community realize the impact of the honey bee and other pollinators. We hope to fill that role.”
Mrs. Pipes’s students led the way in requesting three honey bee nucleus hives as part of their efforts to become certified beekeepers. Each student will work with the bees to focus on their unique interest, whether that’s pest management or candle-making, with the goal of students bringing their hives home and providing education for their community.
Mrs. Evans | Grades 6–8 | Simpsonville, SC
“My students will be using this real-world problem to learn about plant DNA, the effects of insecticides and pesticides, disease resistance plants, the importance of insects for a positive ecosystem, and how the citrus disease will affect the cost of fruits and juices and the loss of jobs.”
Mrs. Evans wanted to engage students in problem-based learning by investigating a citrus disease currently infecting citrus crops in their area. Students will use a plant environment chamber an insect observation kit to observe the disease-carrying insects, and will learn how to extract DNA from potentially infected oranges. Mrs. Evans will also connect her classroom to scientists currently working on the problem, so students can see the real-world impact of what they’re learning.
Mr. Hudson | Grades 9–12 | Fullerton Union High School
“Our Biology Engineering Arts Science Technology (BEAST) is a STEAM program in which students study art, biology and physics through the lens of the film and effects industries to innovate and create animatronics — machines that move like living creatures.”
Mr. Hudson wanted to help his high schoolers learn about biology through art, specifically through the lens of insect-human superheros. He requested a series of observable bugs, which students will use to inspire movable “speculative biology” sculptures of newly invented buggy mutants.
Mrs. Miller | Grades PreK–2 | Brunswick, GA
“First graders love to learn about insects with STEM activities. The children will have fun learning from the ants!”
Mrs. Miller requested a range of resources to help her students learn about STEM by studying insects. Students will hear stories of ants before setting up and observing a classroom ant farm. Then, students will combine what they’ve observed and learned to craft an ant model out of Play-Doh.
Mrs. Eskridge | Grades 3–5 | Mobile, AL
“Who says that Science only belongs in Science class?”
Ms. Eskridge wanted to help her vision- and hearing-impaired students build their language skills by learning about bugs. She requested a microscope so that students could discuss bugs from a new perspective, a bug habitats so students can talk to each other about live insects, and the game Bugs In The Kitchen to help students work on receptive and expressive language (and as a fun reward!).
Mrs. Hansen | Grades 6–8 | Granby, MO
“Could robots be built to jump like grasshoppers? Could we build flying robots that mimic flying insects? What other robotic problems could be solved by learning from insects?”
Mrs. Hansen wanted her students to create robots through biomimicry, using insects to inform their robotics designs. Mrs. Hansen requested a series of robotics equipment, including a Lego Mindstorms EV3 and multiple sensors, for her students to build with. Students will observe insects and learn from their design to create even smarter robots.
Inspired? Have an idea for a creative insect lesson plan for your classroom? Create a project.