Thursday, February 21, 2013

School Malaise Trap Program

We are currently in the last phase to prepare for a new education and outreach project:

Next Tuesday we will start to visit 60 schools in Southern Ontario and team up with grade 6 and grade 12 students to explore the insect diversity in their schoolyards through DNA Barcoding.

Each school will get a visit by our BIObus, an RV converted into a field laboratory, with a team that will introduce students to some methods of fieldwork. We will provide insights into biodiversity research and present DNA Barcoding. Teacher will be supplied with a comprehensive lesson plan designed to fit the respective curricula. 

But that's not all. Each class will put up a so-called Malaise trap to collect insects in the schoolyard over a two-week period in April. 

A malaise trap is a trap for flying insects, particularly flies, wasps, and true bugs. It is usually placed in a natural flyway where it can easily collect hundreds of insects in a week thereby providing a very detailed understanding of local biodiversity. Invented by the Swedish entomologist RenĂ© Malaise, it resembles a black and white tent with a mesh panel along its central axis. When insects encounter the panel, most will naturally go up towards the white coloured roof in an attempt to pass the obstacle. The insects are directed to the top of the trap where they are caught in a collection bottle. 

Here is how to build up one (our detailed instruction video for the classes):

Once the two weeks are over all samples will be analyzed at our facility and each class will receive a detailed report on species found but also comparisons between all 60 locations.

I'll be on the bus for a couple of (not all) trips over the next 6 weeks. I am sure there will be plenty to blog about. In any event a great opportunity to bring our research into the classrooms and allow the kids to participate in ongoing research.

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