Scientist Online: Entomology Engagement via Skype in the Classroom By: EDWARDS guerra & Christine krebs

Currently, Casey Parker, a Ph.D. and Master of Public Health (MPH) student at the University of Florida (UF), is teaming up with Rachel Atchison, a masters student in entomology at UF, to combat the disconnect between middle and high school students in classrooms and entomologists in the lab through Scientist Online: The Science of Mosquitoes. This initiative is a partnership between the Streaming Science and Skype in the Classroom platforms. The program is designed to engage students from around the world in a personal dialogue through a Skype call with an entomologist studying mosquitoes. During the Skype call scientists will share their knowledge of mosquito biology, public health, entomology careers, and their personal journeys into the world of research.

Casey Parker (Left), Rachel Atchison (Right).

As a kid, Parker enjoyed exploring her family farm and always knew that she wanted to help others – she says that these two interest inspired her to pursue a career in science. After trying out pharmacy, she found herself instead loving the world of insects and its connection and influence on public health.

Parker enjoying her family farm. Photo provided by Casey Parker.

“I initially thought that I was going to go into pharmacy. I just found a better fit in entomology, focused on science communication. I did my graduation speech and a Ted Talk. I just like the communication aspect and I found a better fit for my interest in biology and I also like talking about it.” – Shares Parker

When Rachel was in college she realized, “if I went into biology, I could learn things that could help people, the environment, and organisms overall.” She credits the advice of mentors and teachers who helped her see all that she could do to as a scientist. Rachel shared her experience working on a grant focusing on flowers in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Rachel Atchison.

Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in the world with the ability to carry and spread pathogens that cause human disease, causing millions of deaths each year. However, these little critters aren’t exclusively “bad guys”, they play a role in the overall ecosystem. These contradicting reputations of mosquitoes can cause humans to wonder: What is important for us to know about mosquitoes? How do they affect my health and well-being? What can I do to be safe and responsible?

“Not all mosquitoes are bad mosquitoes, they serve a role in the environment, there are some mosquitoes that feed on birds or amphibians.” – Casey Parker

Both, Casey and Rachel love the art and science of communicating entomology to an array of audiences. “If you really want to have dialogue with people and make a meaningful connection having meaningful conversation, you have to first make yourself vulnerable to that conversation,” said Rachel. Both women hope to educate and interact with students across the globe through Scientist Online: The Science of Mosquitoes. Understanding mosquito biology, the careers available in entomology, and what it’s like to be a scientist on a daily basis are just a few of the many takeaways that these scientists hope to create for the students.

Scientists show different types of mosquitoes and students shout out what they think each one is.
The use of visual aids help the younger audience better understand the anatomy of insects.
“A lot of times what you are learning in the classroom is not really what scientists are doing" shares Atchison

“A lot of times what you are learning in the classroom is not really what scientists are doing,” shares Atchison, “In science classes you are learning the content which is different from performing the process of science in a lot of cases.” According to Casey, “science is all about adventure and exploration.” The beauty of Skype with a Scientist is that it fosters a sense of community between students and scientists while also challenging the scientists to effectively communicate complex topics to a younger (sometimes international) audience.

“Doing something like skype in the classroom where you are putting yourself out there [is important]. People won’t know if your research exists if you don’t put yourself out there.” - Rachel Atchison
Selfie with our scientist, Rachel Atchison. She wants to explore different ways we can change how people interact with scientific information through digital and print media. On the left is UF AEC undergraduate student Edwards Guerra. On the right is Christine Krebs, a masters student studying AEC at the University of Florida.

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a copyright violation, please follow the DMCA section in the Terms of Use.