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Field Reports podcast

I am excited to announce that I started a new podcast series ‘Field Reports’ for the Journal of Animal Ecology blog. It is all about fieldwork and science.

For the first episode, I interviewed Nathan Sanders, a ‘formal professional wrestler’ and an ecologist at the University of Vermont. We talk about his first fieldwork experience, ants, plants, a skunk, why study biodiversity, WARM and SALT projects that he is involved in, advice for students, and many personal stories. More about Nate: http://www.natesanders.org

Here is the trailer:

You can listen to the podcast here:

For more info, please visit: https://journalofanimalecology.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/field-reports-with-nathan-sanders/ 

 

 

Insect inquiry: School outreach on making kids ask questions

Last week, I visited kids at the North Ainsle Primary school in Canberra. It was a fun outreach program with discussions about insects found in their school garden. The main goal was to make the kids ask questions about the insects and other small creatures that they find outside their classroom. There were some really interesting questions and some cool doodles (pictures ahead)!

The spirit of asking questions

Traditionally, students are taught to answer questions. They rarely get to learn to ask good questions. It definitely comes with practice, being inquisitive and critical. So I gave the kids a definition of insects and asked them to note questions about the insects they found outside. Surprisingly, they had some really good questions (although not exclusively on insects): what is the speed of a snail? What does it depend on? Do all ants eat other ants? Why are there spots on ladybugs (They even had some hypotheses for this)?Can butterflies fly after touching their wings? Do insects have nose? How do they taste? Why do insects have only 6 legs; why not 10? Do ladybugs change colour depending on their mood? How do insects grow hair on their skeleton? Did you know that baby slaters (wood lice) have a pouch to keep their young ones just like the kangaroos do?

Asking questions–particularly the right ones–is a great skill. It is a major part of doing science. General public can and do ask questions, but may not have the time and resources to answer them. Scientists, on the other hand, go a few steps deeper than a lay person. However, Why should you trust scientists? This Ted talk has something to think about.

Finally, here are some of the questions asked by the kids:

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To make the session fun, I asked them to draw doodles if they wanted to. Here are some:

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Credits: class 3/4 of North Ainsle Primary school. Teachers: Rachel Levinson and Amy Pepper

PS: (NPR made a great podcast on asking questions: http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/514152888/the-spirit-of-inquiry )


Ants and sci-comm: a podcast interview

I was interviewed by James O’Hanlon for his podcast in-situ science. Check it out here:

Ep 12. Ants, ants and more ants with Ravindra Palavalli Nettimi

 

How ants walk backwards and still find their home

Here is a recent article that I wrote for The Conversation:

https://theconversation.com/how-ants-walk-backwards-carrying-a-heavy-load-and-still-find-home-59247

 

 

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