19 November 2009

Hercules Beetle

I saw one of these today, a real one, dead, pinned against moth-repellent in a drawer of beetles housed in the Bean Museum's insect collections.  The most interesting things in the exhibit, however, were the boy specimens--four seventh-grade boys I was chaperoning on a tour of the insect collection guided by a nerdly entomologist who somehow captivated their attention for an hour and patiently tried to find specimens that would satisfy their curiosity about:

*the biggest insect in the collection (do you want wingspan?  no, just massive.)
*the smallest insect in the collection (fleas on alcohol slides)
*the most deadly (the bee, fyi, who is the most dangerous animal by far in the U.S.)
*the weirdest (these huge walking-stick type insects from New Guinea)
*butterflies with clear wings and owl moths

Suddenly those boys were the cutest things I've ever seen, their baby faces, that in three or four years will be handsome, animated and looking engaged  with the material in a way  that I don't often see in the classroom.  Being that I teach English.  (In my limited experience with Jr. High and High School boys, many of them seem particularly resistant to writing in the classroom, or maybe they're just resistant to me.)  

I wish I could make this happen every day, but for now having a beautiful moment among 2,000,000 specimens  of insects was just really, really good.


Marni C. said...

I love this. And I love teenagers for this very reason. You never know when their baby selves will emerge.

Marni C. said...

BTW, have you ever read Annie Dillard's essay where she talks about the Polyphemus moth chrysalis in her 3rd grade classroom in Philadelphia? It comes out of its cocoon still in a jar so that its giant wings harden while they're still bunched up in the jar. They release it, and it walks away, with its giant wings all scrunched up on its back. I used to use this image to talk to teachers about making space so that when students emerge from their cocoons their wings can spread out.

Bingy said...

That was lovely. I'm really glad you're posting again.

TSC said...

That is one starnge looking bug.

Geo said...

Have you considered investing in a bug suit?