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Nov. 24, 2021

Capturing moths, and kids’ curiosity about science

It turns out that moths make good science teachers.

That’s what Michigan State University researchers found when they started encouraging elementary students to capture the winged organisms in their own communities and to ask novel questions.

Like, are there more moths around houses that have pools? Or under deciduous trees?

The investigations help kids understand key concepts about ecosystems in which they live. But the excitement of the journey is more important than discovering the “right” answers.

“We open a window into science by providing students with opportunities to take responsibility for designing research, collecting data, debating ‘what counts’ as evidence — practices of science that are demoted to ‘correctness’ in many schools,” said MSU science education expert David Stroupe, who is collaborating with MSU entomologist Peter White.

“Scientists rarely position children to shape knowledge practices in their field. Our project does that and we purposefully work to redistribute power and agency to everyone in the classroom.”

Now Stroupe and White plan to bring MothEd, as they call it, to more classrooms nationwide, thanks to a four-year, $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Building on their previous research, they will partner with teachers to co-develop free digital learning materials and resources for educators to launch more moth investigations — and excitement about science — around the country. They will partner with colleagues from the Concord Consortium who will specialize in creating technology-assisted curricular materials.

For the full story, visit the College of Education website.

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