Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cute as a Puppy?

My beekeeping friend Mark took this awesome bee photo and I used it in a PowerPoint presentation that I created.

Ever since seeing fuzzy bees under a microscope I was impressed how much--to my mind--they looked like small puppies. So I'm on a mission to convince everyone else how cute they are, especially people who maybe don't like bees very much.

Some of you beekeepers out there reading this blog might have already received the phone call... you know the one that says "I'm a teacher from such-and-such a school and my classroom is doing a module on honey bees." Or you might get the call I got, "The kids at school are being stung by yellow jackets and their fear of bees is really escalating. Can you come and talk to them about honey bees?"

Well, I can't say no to an opportunity to educate young people about bees. Actually, it's kind of a dream of mine to have my children's novel published and then travel all over the place talking to classrooms of kids about honey bees.... yeah, I'm kind of weird ;)

I made a PowerPoint presentation which you can view or copy from my website under the teachers' link called honeybees.ppt. I've tried to make the presentation interactive since everyone learns so much better that way and it's not so boring as just straight lecturing. Feel free to use it if you like - or be inspired by it when creating your own. If you do use it, let me know how it went. You'll need Microsoft PowerPoint (version 2003 or later) to view it.

I'll probably make slight changes as I go along and upload the updates. I've presented it about 3 times today to classes of kids from JK to grade 5 and it went really well. I also took in an empty hive and then dressed the kids up in bee gear (no problem getting volunteers for that!). I had the JK's buzz like bees when we opened the hive and instructed others to say "puff, puff" when I held the smoker and said "smoke". They were most cooperative and there were so many questions that I never did actually get through the whole presentation.

But it's not the goal to get through every slide. The slides are great to give a visual, to provoke questions or peak their interest. I've learned with teaching over the years that it's much more productive to answer questions when asked (a true learning moment) than to just focus on getting through all the material.

I don't have an observation hive yet so no live bees went on this trip. It's fall now too and much too cold to open the hive and remove frames. What I did do though was print colour photos of bees which I taped into frames and they looked very real. After dressing the kids up I pretended to do an inspection, having one child hold the smoker and I used the hive tool.

I also took in little samples for show and tell: Wax scales and pollen that I picked up off my sticky board and a few pieces of wild comb and propolis for them to see.

It was a real blast and I look forward to more opportunities to do this in future.
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