Insect Zoo: Available to (virtually) come to a classroom near you

Young girl watching millipede crawling on her arm during Live with Bugs program
The Insect Zoo's virtual Live with Bugs program offers students a chance to learn about various bugs, as well as an option to interact with select bugs hands-on. (Note: This photo was taken prior to COVID-19 face covering and social distancing requirements.)

With so many variations of in-person and online learning going on, staff at Iowa State University’s Insect Zoo don’t want students to miss out on the opportunity to learn about bugs.

The Insect Zoo is offering virtual Live with Bugs programs that can be tailored to fit the needs of any learning plan. These one-hour, entertaining and educational programs can be offered via Zoom, Google Classroom, or another online platform.

Ginny Mitchell, Insect Zoo Education Program Coordinator, said there are several delivery options to consider:

  • Host multiple classrooms during the program at one time
  • Host one classroom per program with multiple programs in one day (when in-person teaching is occurring)
  • Share a link to the program so students can view the presentation at home (when online teaching is occurring)

“Our virtual program has everything you love about our hands-on program, except the hands-on part,” Mitchell said.

To make up for that, teachers can choose the “live bugs” option to have living superworms sent to their classrooms. The superworms come with food and portion cups in which to keep the bugs so students can experience handling an insect and observe complete metamorphosis. Additionally, the Insect Zoo will send five male Madagascar hissing cockroaches to the classrooms, enclosed in a shoebox complete with food and a care sheet.

“This will allow your students to watch the cockroaches breathe, just like they get to do in our hands-on program,” Mitchell said.

In a normal year, the Insect Zoo would travel to various schools in Iowa, teaching students and adults about bugs, their biology and role in nature. While the pandemic has temporarily curtailed in-person visits, it has opened new opportunities for virtual outreach.

“We are so excited about this opportunity to reach the Iowa students during this time of online learning,” Mitchell said.

If you’re interested in hosting the Insect Zoo for a virtual program, please fill out the request form on the Insect Zoo’s website.

Virtual Live with Bugs program fees:

Large group Virtual Live with Bugs (multiple classrooms for one program) - $100

Small group Virtual Live with Bugs (one classroom for one program, can do multiple in one day or over a week) - $75

Live bugs option (add-on, please indicate on your form you would like this option) - additional $50 per classroom request (example: 2 classrooms = $100, and so on)