Burpee Explorers to ‘Explore Invertebrates Arthropoda’ March 23

Online Staff Report

Rockford’s Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., will present a Burpee Explorers event, “Explore Invertebrates Arthropoda,” from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, March 23.

The event is for children 6 years and older, accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration and payment is required. Cost is $18 per child member, $20 per child non-member (accompanying adult is admitted free). To register, call (815) 965-3433, ext. 1020.

Arthropods are all around us. Search for fossilized and preserved specimens in the museum. To discover the characteristics of arthropods, study live crayfish and dissect a preserved crayfish.

Arthropods are in Rockford’s fossil record. In our dolostone of the Ordovician Period, we find arthropod fossils. The Explorers will search the museum for the diverse arthropod fossils. They will learn the range of arthropods. Only the trilobites are extinct. Arthropods are not just bugs, but include crustaceans, mites, ticks and arachnids (the spiders). They will see up-close live arthropods include Madagascar hissing cockroaches and Rosie, the museum’s tarantula.

Students will also examine very unusual arthropods from the museum’s permanent collection. Participants will be using microscopes and performing specific tests to learn the attributes of this phylum. They get to participate in real science.

Burpee Explorers began six years ago and is a once-a-month science class. For 2012-2013, these classes have focused on invertebrates. Children go beyond the usual experiences offered in many institutions. They actually experience the world of science.

Burpee Explorers connects the average child with a world that is usually only viewed from a distance, such as through television; instead, they use real specimens.

In April, Burpee Explorers will be working with crayfish. Previously this year, the Explorers have examined preserved and live crayfish, preserved jelly fish, preserved starfish, preserved squid, fresh mussels and fresh pig hearts.

Children are exposed to scientific nomenclature, referring, for example, to the five kingdoms. Instructors reference the phylum to which the specimen belongs and use Latin names; yet, keeping the classes for children. The language of science becomes the child’s own language. The classes make a point to use the museum’s exhibits and collections. Whenever possible, the class includes a trip into Burpee’s permanent collection, which includes about 4,000 birds, 52,000 archaeological artifacts and about 100,000 total specimens.

Since intergenerational learning is so important, an adult must accompany the Explorer. The class is directed to the child, but is of a caliber to interest the adult. When necessary, the adult assists the child, allowing for activities typically beyond the scope of the usual science class.

The class meets the National Science Education Standards for Life Science.

Posted March 20, 2013

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