On Monday, June 5th, Planet Bee completed the pilot phase of our Remote ZomBee Watch Program with Sandwich STEM Academy on Cape Cod, Massachusetts! We are so overjoyed with the success of this program, and couldn't have asked for a better group of teachers and students to experiment with!
The program first began when the mother of Staff Writer and Planet Bee Educator Ayla, 7th grade science teacher Renee Fudala of Mashpee, Massachusetts, asked us whether her students could get involved in our ZomBee Watch Program. At first we thought it would be impossible, what with the 3,000 miles separating Planet Bee and Sandwich STEM Academy (SSA). But then we realized that we could teach Renee's students remotely, through a combination of skype lectures, Q&As, and sending lesson plans and materials to SSA teachers. Our remote program was a go!
First, we had an introductory skype session with all 200 7th graders. While they sat in their auditorium, Sarah and Ayla taught the students about the importance of bees to our ecosystem and food supply, quizzed them on the three types of bees, and taught them about how the zombie flies parasitize honey bees, turning them into ZomBees. We ended the lesson by showing students a map of the world from the official ZomBee Watch website, showing them everywhere that Citizen Scientists had performed the experiment, and pointing out that they would be the first students to ever hunt ZomBees on Cape Cod!
Then we modified our normal ZomBee Watch lesson plans for SSA teachers to implement in their own classrooms. Building light traps became one lesson, while practicing the scientific method became the second. We sent our ZomBee and zombie fly samples to Sandwich for use in the second lesson, so that students could see them with their own eyes! We had to wait quite a while for it to warm up enough in Massachusetts for students to put their traps out, but eventually there came a spring night warm enough. Though students haven't caught any bees so far, it's still possible that they might. Students will even be able to bring home their traps this summer and set them out at home if they want! And if there are no ZomBees on the Cape, as currently seems to be the case, then that's good news for Cape Cod bees!
For our final skype lesson, we tailored our presentation to fit smoothly into the curriculum currently being taught by Renee and her co-teacher. This involved teaching students about taxonomy and the most common insect orders, the evolution of insects into these different orders, the co-evolution for flowers and pollinators, and the food web. We explained the process of data analysis, and reassured students that catching no ZomBees is just as significant a result as catching ZomBees would be. Finally, we introduced Professor Hafernik, ZomBee Watch founder for a Q& A! The students had a great time asking him questions, varying from "How long do zombie flies live?" to "Do bees have emotions?" to "Who would win in a swordfight, a bee or an earthworm?" Professor Hafernik answered each question easily, using his vast stores of entomological knowledge and cheerful humor, before thanking the students for their help and saying goodbye.
Planet Bee is so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such brilliant teachers and curious students! We couldn't have asked for a better group of test subjects for our remote program. Read on to see some of our favorite thank you notes from students!
Happy ZomBee Hunting!
Thank You Notes from Students
Dear Planet Bee Foundation,
Thank you so much for letting us participate in your research! I really enjoyed learning about ZomBees and creating traps!
Bee-cause of you, we were able to collect important data that could possibly save the bees! You are sweeter than HONEY!
Dear Sarah and Ayla,
Thank you so much for the bee information. I learned so much. I am so happy with all I learned. I will take this into the future. Yay I now love bees.
Dear Ayla and Sarah,
Thank you so much for spending your time on teaching us 7th graders about ZomBees and the issues that go with them. I have learned now to bee (haha, get it?) more careful and to look out for ZomBees!
Dear Science Watchers,
I learned many things about ZomBees. I did not think these were real at first but this project changed my thinking. I learned that bees can change into exotic ZomBees. The process of this happening is amazing.
PS. What is a bee’s favorite haircut?
A BUZZ cut.
Dear Planet Bee Foundation,
Thank you for the great opportunity to learn about the zombees. I got to learn not only about the zombie flies but also about bees, why they are so important, and the problems facing their population. I enjoyed making the trap and seeing what I could catch. I’m glad we didn’t find any ZomBees here!
Zombies were, up until, what? 3 months ago? Just a trope of horror and survival movies, but now they’re a subject of reality, and knowlng this problem will surely cause us to uncover more of this use. All around setting up traps, learning about parasites and ecosystems too, was really interesting, and I would like to THANK YOU! For doing that.
Dear Ayla, Sarah, and The Planet Bee Foundation,
Thank you so much for teaching us about bees and for taking time out of your day to skype with us. I have learned so much about bees, thanks again!
(P.S. Ayla, you have an amazing mom, she is one of my favorite teachers!)
More Bee Puns:
Bee puns aren’t that great. IDK what all the BUZZ is about.
Did you get stung by a bee? Don’t be a cry ba-BEE.
A bee’s favorite sport is rug-BEE.
Thank you for teaching us about bees and helping us experiment with Zombie bees. I learned a lot! I enjoyed building the traps. My group caught 25 midges! Even though we didn’t catch any zombie bees, we had fun! We caught moths, june bugs, beetles, midges and more! Again thank you!
Thank you so much for taking the time to teach us about zombees! I didn’t know much about bees before and now I want to save them!
We at Planet Bee feel so grateful to have such clever, compassionate, artistic, and hilarious students! After reading these thank you notes, we'll never consider ourselves experts of bee puns again. These 7th graders are the true bee-lievers!
Written by Ayla Fudala
Staff Writer and Environmental Educator