Sarah Wang is seeking to protect bees everywhere with her Gold Award project, “Bee Friendly.” She identified a prevalent problem in her community: the lack of knowledge about bee conservation tactics. In recent years, pesticides, lack of flowers, pathogens, and parasites have caused the honeybee population to steadily decline. Lack of honeybees would prevent life on Earth as we know it from being possible! By creating a curriculum for second-grade students, Sarah sought out to teach the next generation how they can prevent this from becoming true.
“My project focus is honeybee conservation because they are crucial to the environment and food production,” Sarah said. “When I was a child, I didn’t understand the necessity of insects and pollination to my daily life.” She sought out the expertise of Bryan Castro from the Ventura County Beekeeping Club, who focuses on educational outreach on bees, for his input on her program. Sarah also visited an apiary, or collection of beehives, in Maryland and talked to professionals about bee conservation through beekeeping and planting flowers. Using these resources, she put together a lesson on honeybee importance and conservation catered to second-grade students with the help of Mrs. Anthony from Sycamore Canyon Elementary School.
“Honeybees are used by beekeepers to pollinate agricultural crops and make honey and other bee products,” Sarah said. “Globally, honeybees are used more than any other pollinators. This is important because according to the Pollinator Partnership, one out of every three bites of food depends on pollination. Thus, honeybees must be kept healthy to sustain food production for humans. Honeybees and other pollinators are also crucial to the natural environment because they ensure that plants, which are a major food source for animals globally, will continue to produce fruits and seeds.”
Sarah designed a PowerPoint presentation with engaging pictures, a game to demonstrate what factors affect worker bees and pollination, and an online quiz to share with the second-grade students. She then visited two different classes to teach them how and why to “Bee Friendly,” and left her lesson plan and materials with teachers so that it can be shared with students in the years to come.
“Children are usually scared of honeybees and other insects,” Sarah said. “Coupled with the fact that they typically don’t know how important bees are until a later age, children don’t know why they should protect them or how they can help them. It is important now more than ever that we conserve bees because they are being threatened by human pesticides, diseases, and lack of habitat.”
The second-grade classes were educated on ways that students can help honeybees prosper in their day to day lives, including supporting local beekeepers, planting additional flowers in their yards, creating a “bee box,” and buying pesticide-free food. They were taught about honeybee biology, behavior, and hive hierarchy. Students then headed outside to play a simulation game, where they used sticky notes to represent “pollinating” flowers. Sarah also brought in a beekeeping suit and tool to show the students. “I had a lot of fun presenting on bees, leading the kids in a game, and answering their enthusiastic questions,” she said. “It was priceless to me to see their engagement and intrigue in honeybees, knowing that my lesson brought that amazement to them.”
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