BioSleuths @ Springfield – Friday: Forensic Entomology

BioSleuths @ Springfield – Friday: Forensic Entomology

Today, students continued their study of forensic entomology: the use of knowledge of insects to help solve criminal investigations. Our junior investigators learned how forensic entomologists use the life cycle of maggot-laying flies in order to determine the exact time of death of a victim. In order to observe the life cycle in action, students examined their canned chicken samples from Monday.

In addition, the biosleuths used the knowledge they had gained about forensic entomology to solve crime scene situations!

Ask your student:

What exactly are maggots? (fly larva)

How can forensic scientists use maggots to estimate time of death? (life stages of a fly take a known amount of time)

BioSleuths @ Springfield – Thursday: Grasshopper Dissection – External

BioSleuths @ Springfield – Thursday: Grasshopper Dissection – External

Today, our young anatomy investigators set their sights on grasshoppers! Students mainly focused on the grasshopper’s appendages and other features that were easily visible, observing how the structure of each part might enable it to function most efficiently. Our biosleuths even got the chance to identify some correct or incorrect features on famous cartoon insects like Jiminy Cricket!

Students will continue their grasshopper dissections tomorrow by exploring the internal features of the same insects they worked on today.

Ask your student:

What are the three body segments of the grasshopper called? (head, thorax, and abdomen)

Why are the grasshopper’s back legs different from its front legs? (they need to be bigger for jumping)

Biosleuths @ Springfield – Wednesday: Beak Design Challenge

Biosleuths @ Springfield – Wednesday: Beak Design Challenge

Have you ever thought about why birds’ have such different beaks? Your student can help you answer that question! One of the areas that they learned about today was different bird beaks and how they are designed. Using different tools or “beaks” students tried to “eat” a certain food item and move it to a bowl, or the “stomach” of the bird. Students had to figure out which beak worked best for each food item. Students then used logic and creativity to design their own beak that would allow them to eat a food of their choosing.

Ask your student:

What beak function might be best for eating seeds? (cracking).

What sort of food might a probing beak be well-suited for? (insects, worms, crustaceans).



BioSleuths @ Springfield – Tuesday: Honey Bees

BioSleuths @ Springfield – Tuesday: Honey Bees

One of the four areas students investigated today was the intricate social nature of bees and how the different types of bees work together to make honey, the honeycomb, and more bees! As a group, students enacted the roles of the bees in a hive and “produced” their own honey. “I can’t believe bees have to work so hard just to make a little honey!” observed one student.

Our intrepid biosleuths also used manipulatives and geometry to discover how and why honeybees have perfected their honeycomb design and concluded that hexagons are the optimal shape for honeycomb cells.


Ask your student:
From which part of the bee’s body does the wax come? (abdomen)
Which type of bee in the colony builds the honeycomb? (worker)

BioSleuths @ Springfield – Monday: Soil Life

BioSleuths @ Springfield – Monday: Soil Life

Whether you can see them or not there are many things living in the soil. This is one of the concepts your student learned today. Students set up two experiments today to learn not only about where life comes from but also what kinds of organisms live in the soil. Students worked in groups to prepare their first experiment. They placed pieces of chicken in cans with different coverings; they will come back to these cans later in the week to observe what is new. After this experiment they collected soil samples to learn about all the living things inside of it. Many of the students found worms or other critters while they were on this mission.

These curious biosleuths shined light directly over the Burlese-Tullgren funnel to help them understand what organisms live in the ground. “I think I’m going to find more worms in my soil.” hypothesized one of the sleuthers.

Ask your student:

How did the light help you find organisms in the Burlese-Tullgren funnel set up? (organisms will tend to move away from the light/heat source, which is downward into the alcohol)


Thank you to all of our Volunteers in Belleville!

Thank you to all of our Volunteers in Belleville!

Many of the MetroEast (Belleville) volunteers return year after year.  They look forward to making new friends and strengthening their leadership skills, all while instilling a passion for math and science in young people.  These volunteers work long hours and are very responsible, well organized, and willing to take on additional tasks.

Our volunteer group leaders play an essential role in the delivery of I.M.S.A. enrichment programs.  They provide support and assistance to the classroom instructors who deliver the lessons. Group leaders provide a learning environment whereby participants can take risks while exploring new subject matter in a “learn-by-doing” manner.  They also supervise and interact with participants during free time and are ultimately responsible for their whereabouts.

These individuals have a vested interest in assisting students, ensuring that they have a successful experience in our summer program. We cannot thank them enough for their hard work!

BioSleuths: Belleville

BioSleuths: Belleville

Grasshopper Dissection – internal

Did you know that grasshoppers have a tubular digestive system just like humans?  Turns out we’re more alike than we thought. Students had the chance to dissect a grasshopper and see its internal structure. Students then observed the different systems including Digestive, Excretory, Nervous, Reproductive, Circulatory, and Respiratory.

One student remarked, “It’s like this grasshopper is a mini person!”

Ask your student:

The Trachea and Spiracles are a part of what organ system? (Respiration)

Name one structure inside of the grasshopper  (intestines, muscles, stomach, brain, heart, trachea, eggs/ovary or testes)

BioSleuths: Belleville

BioSleuths: Belleville

Forensic Entomology

Have you ever heard of a blow fly? Did you ever think about their life cycle and how theirs differs or compares with our own? In today’s lesson, students were introduced to and mimicked the Blow Fly life cycle with pasta pieces. Afterwards, our young forensic etymologists began to understand what role temperature plays in the growth of a blow fly.

Ask your student:

What kind of metamorphosis is evident for the blow fly larva? (complete)

What is one of the stages of the blow fly life cycle? (eggs, 1st instar larvae, 2nd instar larvae, 3rd instar larvae…)

BioSleuths: Belleville

BioSleuths Belleville – Ant Investigations

Today, students were able to use their knowledge of experiments by hypothesizing, conducting an experiment, collecting, and interpreting data. Students were asked to test different substances and observe an ant’s reaction to it. Some substances were preferred by the ants meanwhile other substances were avoided.

The young scientists appeared eager to experiment. One student commented, “I think the ants will like chips because I like chips!”

Ask your student:

What is a hypothesis?

What kind of substances can I use to repel ants if I have an ant infestation in my house? (Cinnamon, Vinegar, Baby Powder)

BioSleuths: Belleville

BioSleuths – Belleville: Pollination Party

Have you ever thought about pollination and how important it is? Today our students were able to role play and actively participate in a “pollination party”. The pollination party allowed for students to play as butterflies, grasshoppers, and bees thus allowing for a more hands on experience. Students not only understood the important of insects through the role playing but also through a comparison of produce images showing a world with bees and without bees.

Overall, students were able to understand the importance of insects in a flower life cycle and even human lives.

Ask your student:

What would happen if there were not bees? (we would have a lot less food in the produce section of the grocery store)

Name an animal that helps transfer pollen. (butterfly, moth, ant, wasp, beetle, fly,bird, bat)