Biology Honorary Hosts Local Girl Scouts for Bugs! Badge Day

Members of Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta), the Biology Honorary, recently hosted several local Girl Scout Troops for a Bugs! Badge Day.  The event was held on Saturday February 21st at the Wachtmeister Field station of the St. Lawrence University campus and in attendance were troops from Canton, Hermon, and Rensselaer Falls.

Jaclyn teRiele, Troop Leader from Rensselaer Falls, NY and Biology Department Laboratory Manager, approached the Biology Honorary students last semester to inquire about them hosting an activity for the girl scouts related to bugs.  Tri-Beta members eagerly jumped at the opportunity to communicate their love of science to a younger generation.

At the event, which was organized and executed enthusiastically by the Tri-Beta members, girl scouts were able to build a bug house from a juice container; create a caterpillar from egg cartons; make bug posters; dissect termites and look at the parasites in their guts under a microscope; examine preserved specimens of insects (some were over 100 years old!); eat bug-shaped snacks; and learn fun facts about “bugs” of all kinds.  When the girls completed the activities at all stations, they earned their Bugs! badge.  

On behalf of the girl scouts, Ms. teRiele thanked the SLU Biology Department for lending the insect specimens from the museum and for collecting/donating materials for the crafts. She also thanked the TriBeta members for an excellent program.  “Clearly much preparation and thought went into making the day a success!  It was great to have so many SLU students there to help out, it allowed for a lot of personalized interaction.  At the end, when the kids said which activity was their favorite, each activity had a few fans.  The activities chosen were right on point with what kids in grade school are interested in.” she said.

The feeling was mutual from Tri-Beta members. Mackenzie Meyer ’15, Biology major and Psychology minor, said that her favorite part of the event on Saturday was the overall enthusiasm. “I worked with the setup crew, and everyone was so willing to make sure every station was all set. The girl scouts, their leaders, and their parents were obviously very interested and thankful for our work. It was such a great opportunity to be with people interested in science, from the girls to the adults!” she said. In addition, Mackenzie had personal reasons for getting involved in such an event. “There are no colleges in the county I grew up in, so I was rarely exposed to events like this growing up. Participating in this event allowed me to feel like I was making a difference. As a previous Brownie Girl Scout myself, I know I would have been so excited for an event like this!”

Eric McIntyre ’15, Conservation Biology Major was motivated to help with the event because he feels that sharing knowledge about the earth and different living creatures enables us to create personal connections to the places that we live in, engendering a sense of responsibility and value toward the earth.  When asked what his favorite part of the event was he stated “it was awesome to know that, even if the girls didn't remember the exact difference between a few species, they now know forever that when it comes to looking at insects, or any species for that matter, we identify them by defining characteristics such as size, shape, color, and antennae type.” In the end, he also enjoyed that the girl scouts were exceptionally willing to learn and were outgoing during their interactions with their college-aged instructors.

Beta Beta Beta biology honorary was founded in 1922 and is dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study. The aims of Beta Beta Beta are to stimulate interest, scholarly attainment, and investigation in the biological sciences, and to promote the dissemination of information and new interpretations among students of the life sciences. To that end, the Alpha Iota Chapter at St. Lawrence University sponsors panel discussions and other scientific outreach events, such as this one, throughout the academic year.