This evening, I was invited to talk to the local STEM scouts about bees/beekeeping. (Hey, Bee Scouts would have been a totally "punny," title, too, but since the STEM scouts are co-ed, my literal brain just couldn't process that). It was a blast! If you're a beekeeper and ever have a chance to talk about bees with kids, I highly recommend jumping at the chance. Kids are so much fun, and they have the best questions. Besides, if you can get a kid interested in bees or the environment, you'll have improved the world because they will become adults who plant flowers and help things grow.
Anyhow, they asked questions a mile a minute, which was awesome because it meant that they were engaged and thinking, and in the end, exploratory learning tends to be much more effective than having an agenda pushed on you. The only downside of the interruptions was that I went way over my allotted time and had to rush through most of the activities I had planned. However, the kids still got a chance to learn some basic beekeeping vocab, handle actual comb, learn about the life cycle of bees/processes in the hive, do two activities that demonstrate the importance of all pollinators (not just bees), learn about harvesting honey & wax, and taste some honey. Whew! That was a lot!
|Inspecting some brood comb|
Anyway, as much as I love talking about how cool honey bees are, the real message I want to get across is how important bees and other pollinators are, so running over time was useful in the sense that it has got me thinking about how to make it better for kids. Adults tend to save their questions until the end, which keeps things running smoothly. I'll have to figure out how to control the wildy wonderful chaos that children wreak on my agenda, which will probably mean paring the honey bee info down so that there is more time for the main message of "Protect our pollinators!"
|Aren't they the cutest?|
In any case, I have an advantage pulling together informational talks since my background is in instructional design (basically I design training for organizations). My personal approach to training tends to be highly interactive because to me nothing is worse than a page turner or a straight-up lecture with some head honking "wah wah wah" like in the Peanuts cartoons. Instead, I encourage activities that get people (young or old) thinking about the information being presented. In a lecture, that might translate into a lot of dialogue or posing questions so the audience can figure things out for themselves. I'm keen on activities, too, and I thought I'd share a couple that I used tonight in case you wanted to incorporate them into your own presentations.
[Author's note: Please, don't judge the looks of my materials too harshly. For the past month, I've been really pressed between work, vacation (oh the irony!), bees, garden, house, sickness, helping my kids with their projects, etc. that I didn't have as much time as I'd like to work on "packaging" my presentation materials. Also, my printer conked out on me at the last minute. I mean, I felt like the activities were solid, but visually, my materials looked pretty rough. Fortunately, good activities trump ugly boards. Next time, though, they'll look better.]The first activity was pretty simple. For 30 seconds, the kids shouted out their favorite plant foods as I wrote them down. (Ideally, I would've like 90 seconds, but we were out of time, and desperate times call for desperate measures.) Afterwards, we went through the list, and I crossed off every single one that needed a pollinator (any pollinator, not just honey bees). As you can see, there wasn't much left. If you look at the photo, alfalfa is a different color because I added it after we finished crossing-out everything else. I wanted to point out that alfalfa is big business as a bee-pollinated crop that is used to feed dairy cows. No alfalfa = no dairy. Those whip-smart kids quickly made the jump on their own to realizing that no milk meant no ice cream, no yogurt, no chocolate bars, no cheesy pizza... Hopefully, this will provide them with personal motivation for keeping pollinators healthy.
|Here's our 30-second list of favorite foods|
We also quickly studied and discussed a food web showing the connections between various pollinators, types of plants, and animals. (Push pins & and string show connections between the photos.) One bright girl said, "All those animals need plants and fruit, and without pollinators there aren't any!" At that moment, I knew it was time to pull the pollinator push pin/strings out and let them see how all the other strings started coming off, too.
We did some other stuff, too, but those were my two favorite activities. If you do general talks like this, do you have a favorite activity or presentation method that you'd like to share?