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   from the issue of September 14, 2006

  Bug Bash

Event marks decade of multi-legged outreach


Cockroaches are warming up. Bees are buzzing. Chocolate chip chirpies are ready to munch. And, when the gates to the Lincoln Children's Zoo open Sept. 16, hundreds of emerging entomologists (and more than a few uneasy parents) will explore the world of insects at the 10th annual Bug Bash.

BEE ENCOUNTER - UNL graduate student Nick Aliano handles a beehive during a Bug Bash 2005 presentation at the Lincoln Children's...
BEE ENCOUNTER - UNL graduate student Nick Aliano handles a beehive during a Bug Bash 2005 presentation at the Lincoln Children's Zoo. The event, sponsored by the Department of Entomology, drew nearly 2,500 visitors to the zoo a year ago. Bug Bash 2006, which is celebrating a 10th anniversary, is Sept. 16 at the zoo. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.

The event - which features multiple educational stations - took flight in 1996.

"The department was getting a ton of requests for us to bring insects out to K to 12 schools," said Marion Ellis, associate professor of entomology, who helped start Bug Bash a decade ago. "We were overwhelmed, but we still didn't like saying no. That's when we decided to find a better way to do it."

Also in 1996, Lincoln Public Schools opened the Science Focus High School. When a decision was made to hold an public event and invite students to the entomologists, the department opted to partner with LPS and the Science Focus High School.

Ellis said UNL entomologists work with the Science Focus students for two days prior to each Bug Bash, showing them how to run the educational stations. The students then staff the stations during the week as LPS fourth-grade classes venture through the Lincoln Children's Zoo.

Ellis said the interactions with faculty have drawn Science Focus students to UNL over the years; several have majored in entomology.

"Bug Bash really is a great recruiting tool for all the sciences," Ellis said. "We teach them a little bit about the sciences and how to work with insects. We are able to convey to the students that science is an enjoyable, fun and challenging career."

He credited Tiffany Heng-Moss, assistant professor, and Leon Higley, professor, both in entomology, with helping develop Bug Bash over the last 10 years.

While Bug Bash is reserved for LPS fourth-graders during the week, the event opens to the public Sept. 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lincoln Children's Zoo, 1222 S. 27th Street.

Bug Bash offers 13 insect stations, including the ever-popular cockroach races on the AKSARBUG track, honey tasting, fly tying, insect communication, and insect munchies at the Hard Roach Café.

"We still make individual school visits from time to time," Ellis said. "But, Bug Bash is a really excellent way for us to combine resources and interact with students and the community."

Bug Bash 2006 partners include UNL Extension, the Department of Entomology, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln Children's Zoo and Pfizer.



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