As many of you probably know, I work for a natural history museum in North Carolina and my job focuses on getting people involved in citizen science efforts. My museum is part of a really fun collaborative project called Remix, Remake, Curate that brings together museum-based science and the arts (writing especially). It encourages participants (especially K-12 students) to get involved in fun, hands-on science activities and write creatively about their experiences. We’re partnered with the Tar River Writing Project and the Poetry Project, so our particular project has students learning about science through a variety of activities and then writing/performing poetry based on what they learned. Participants then share their results – scientific and written – through scheduled Twitter chats and Google Hangouts and post their poems and photos from their scientific explorations on the Google+ community. The project is offered in a massive open online course format, so anyone anywhere can get involved! You don’t even have to be a kid to take part.
Predaceous diving beetle at a light at night
Why should you care? Because year 2 of the project starts on Monday and my team created a fun insect-themed activity focused on nighttime insects! Over the next two weeks, we’re encouraging people to go outside at night, look at lights, and record observations about the insects they see. I’ve created a simple guide to porch light insects to help people identify their critters and a datasheet for recording observations. (Both are now available on the Educational Materials page!) After making some observations of nighttime insects, we are encouraging participants to write a two-voice poem based on their experience and share the results (whether the poem itself or a video recording of two people performing the poem) on our Google+ community. At the end of our two weeks, we will have built a huge collection of insect photos, datasheets with awesome insect drawings, artwork, insect poetry, and other insect awesomeness that everyone will be able to see online. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!
Want to get involved? You can participate in a variety of different ways! If you’re an educator, consider following along with your class. Most of the people developing the activities for this activity are language or visual arts teachers and the activities are built for teachers to use in their classrooms. We’d love to have you join in. If you would simply like to participate in the project on your own, please do! Even if you’re not a K-12 student or a teacher, we’d still love to see some of your porch light insect photos, poems, etc. And, if you want to really make a kid’s day, you could also visit our Google+ community page over the next few weeks and comment on poems submitted by participants. Last year, the kids who participated told their teachers that one of the best things about the project was the feedback they got from strangers, knowing that people out there were actually reading the things they had created. I don’t expect any of you to become poetry trolls, but it’s worth saying that we hope that commenters will be kind. Most of the participants are kids, after all!
I am planning to blacklight in my backyard each night next week and write a whole bunch of poems for the project. I’ll likely post some of them here, so if you see my blog invaded by poetry, that’s why! And just to get you in the mood, I thought I’d share a poem today. The woman who administers Remix, Remake, Curate, Stephanie West-Puckett (an instructor at Eastern Carolina University), attended the Educator Open House at my museum last week to drum up interest in the project. She had the teachers who visited her station do a blackout poem, a type of poem where you take a piece of text and then black out all of the words that will not eventually become a part of the poem. She chose my recent post about antlions as the text, so I’ll leave you with an antlion blackout poem.
Hope to see a few of you join the project starting Monday!
Going, Going, Gone
A Blackout Poem Created by North Carolina Teachers
Prairie Ridge antlions at work
moving about. There are hoards.
For a moment, digging.
Abdomen, thorax, head.
Mouth-parts for a moment.
Like the Sarlaccc in Star,
Sci-fi lover. Antlion pits.
Little craters. Monster.
Unsuspecting victims slip into the cone-shaped pits,
Tumble to the bottom.
Whole larva swallowed by the sand,
Cone-shaped pit, sand all over the place.
Hapless ant, it’s next meal.
Antlions are crazy cool.
Larvae, they roll. Ball.
Damselfly-like antlion. Same species.
As that antlion lying in wait,
Just below the surface,
Sight. Life. Over.
Series of photos, re-burying itself.
Larvae crawl backwards,
Butt first, bewildered.
Larvae hooked the easiest
Repeating, burying itself.
Pit. Lurks beneath surface.
Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth