Winters students learn about pollinator roles in hands-on workshop

The UC Davis Equity in STEM and Entrepreneurship (ESTEME) Club gave students several presentations on local pollinators.
Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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In early April students at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School were all abuzz as they learned about bees and other pollinators at different stations set up by graduate students in the UC Davis Equity in STEM and Entrepreneurship (ESTEME) Club. Each of the three stations gave students an opportunity to get hands on and learn at the same time. Students buzzed with questions and excitement at station three, where a travel sized observation hive was set up for them to learn about honey bees and to try and identify the Queen. ESTEME Club member Adrian Perez handed out magnifying glasses so students could get a closer look at the live bees in the observation hive. He also donned a beekeepers suit and gear and set up a shadow box showing other pollinators, including native butterflies and different bee species. Perez said the objective of that day’s workshop was to show students that bees touch a third of our food, either directly or indirectly. The workshop also taught about bees’ relationship with agriculture. ESTEME Club members hope students will understand the value of pollinatorsespecially now that their numbers are declining. “It’s important to inspire a new generation of young thinkers and help them understand the world of insects,” Perez said. “Kids are actively afraid of them, and it’s important to dispel the notion that bees are scary or mean.” At station two students learned about the diversity of pollinators from ESTEME Club members Nick Saleh and April Booth. “Many know bumble bees and honey bees, but we wanted to show the diversity of different pollinating species like butterflies, hummingbirds and even bats,” said Saleh. He presented students with a photo collage of different pollinators. Afterward Booth handed out snacks and talked about the process of how pollinators made each of them possible, including cheese, apples and even the grain used to make crackers. “Without bees we wouldn’t have dairy products,” said Booth. “Bees pollinate alfalfa, which feeds the cows that eat it.” Station one allowed students to get creative as they painted bee houses/hotels for solitary bees. ESTEME Club members Isabelle Neylan and Hannah Nelson used the Carpenter Bee as an example of solitary bees to teach students about native bees and how students can help them by providing a habitat. “Our local native pollinators are mostly solitary,” said Nelson. “They are especially in competition with honey bees and compounding factors of habitat loss.” “What’s important about them is they are native. Honey Bees aren’t from the U.S.” said Neylan. “The point was to say these bees aren’t doing great but you can help them out with these houses.” After students rotated through all three stations they shared some of the things they were taking away including: Some bees pollinate and some don’t; bees sends signals to tell other bees to get to work; bees are really smart and their communication is really interesting; and that some bees like wood. Perez said community members who are interested in helping bees can plant a pollinator garden and put out a diversity of plants that are good for pollinators. ESTEME Club comes out to Shirley Rominger twice a year in part of their STEM Stars program. Each day is a different theme to help expose students to different career paths and options in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Nan Williams, Winters Elementary School science teacher, said she coordinates with ESTEME Club to help Inspire students to think about different career paths and college opportunities. The club also visits Winters Middle School twice a month for STEM Squad which is an after-school club led by ESTEME volunteers twice a month to guide middle school students through hands-on activities such as writing computer programs, building airplanes and dissecting owl pellets.]]>

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