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Beetles Teach Kids about Science

Doug Emlen of the University of Montana is using live rhinoceros beetles to develop children's interest in insects and science. One of the largest insects on Earth, the rhinoceros beetle sports intricate horn structures that fascinate kids.

Emlen's outreach events at schools in Missoula, MT expose 1st and 2nd grade children to an array of preserved beetle specimens from around the world. The kids also hold and interact with live rhinoceros beetles. The conversation centers around insect diversity by discussing how different the insects look from one another and how these different structures allow them to live in their native habitats.  The children compare rhinoceros beetles to insects found in Montana. These talks educate the students about why insects are important and raise their awareness of the local environment.

Emlen also hosts a high school student in his lab. This student-researcher is performing an independent research project that contributes to Emlen's larger research program on how factors such as genetics and nutrition contribute to beetle horn development.

Images (1 of )

  • Photo of two children looking at rhino beetle
  • As assortment of beetle heads
Doug Emlen of the University of Montana is using rhinoceros beetles to promote children's interest in insects and science.
Baerbel Schmidt
Permission Granted
As assortnent of horned beetle heads
Douglas J. Emlen, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana-Missoula
Permission Granted

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