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Telling the world about bugs

Heath Ogden, assistant professor of biology

Insects are an important feature of the arid Colorado Plateau, but previous descriptions of the insects in this area, and more specifically in Capitol Reef National Park, have been very small in scope. A UVU project changed all that by creating a comprehensive brochure to educate park visitors about the park’s many insect varieties.

The UVU Capitol Reef Field Station provided the setting for an opportunity to involve students in hands-on research in one of the most beautiful “classrooms” in the world. Students spent time at Capitol Reef working together in small groups collecting insects during the day with aerial nets, and at night with the help of a very bright mercury vapor lamp insect trap. It is fun to hear the pride in the students’ voices as they explain the project to curious park visitors passing by as they collect insects.

Students then return to the labs in the new science building to undertake the “curation” process, which involves correctly displaying, pinning and labeling the insects. They are creating a permanent collection to share what they have discovered so others can learn from it. This is what science is all about.

Finally, students give presentations about this research at local and national scientific meetings. Additionally, the Ogden Lab is producing an insect field guide to be used by other UVU students and park visitors. Finally, students give presentations about this research at local and national scientific meetings. The project becomes something they each take ownership in, which is what makes it a successful engaged learning experience.

(Read about this story from the perspective of UVU students or community members.)

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