Published on: February 17, 2020
Insects of Nevada: An Alphabet Book
A Poetic, Scientific, & Artistic Alphabet Book
by Nevada Elementary Students
About 10 years ago, when I was still working as the Science Consultant for the NV Department of Education, I was invited to bring my insect collection to visit the 5th grade class of Vivian Olds, at Fernley Intermediate School. I spent the morning introducing the students to the fascinating world of insects and their other arthropod relations.
Insects and arthropods are so diverse, numerous, and interesting, that they can easily become “Phenomena” that we can use to engage students in learning about many aspects of science. These 5th grade students were so engaged with the phenomenon of insects that they decided to keep going after I went back to my office.
This was how the Alphabet Book got started. In addition to being a nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Elementary Science Teaching, Vivian Olds was also an artist and writer. When the students said they wanted to do an insect project, she worked with them to take full advantage of their interest in science and also build their skills in writing, research, and art to create a book. The students each selected an insect (or arthropod) for their letter in the alphabet, they had to research their organism and find pictures that they could use as models for their own illustrations. The students made scientific drawings of their insects and also used the information they had collected to write short, science related, poems to go with their pictures.
A few weeks later, I received a copy of the first version of the book that was produced at the school by the students and their teacher. I still have my original copy.
After I got the book, Vivian gave me all of the original pages just in case I ever wanted to make more copies. Last summer (2019) I finally decided to complete my original plan. I added some scientific information about each of the entries and worked with Vivian to edit some of the pages to make the images easier to see. We added a picture of the Vivid-Dancer Damselfly (Argia vivida) the Nevada State Insect, and a page for students to add their own original artwork.
I had a few copies printed, and the book is now available at a couple of bookstores in Reno. It is also available directly from me. I still have a few copies left. If you or your school library would like a copy, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost for NSSTA members: $15.00
I am also looking for other classrooms or individuals who would like to participate in the development of other alphabet books about Nevada and the Great Basin. If you or your students would like to be part of a new book, such as Birds, Reptiles, Arachnids, Fishes, etc. of Nevada, please let me know.
Richard N. Vineyard, Ph.D.
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