A unique undertaking by her environmental science class students has earned a Glenwood Community High School teacher statewide recognition and her school $20,000 in technology.
Betsy Maryott is one of five winners from Iowa in the 2014 Samsung Solve For Tomorrow contest, a national competition created to promote innovative ways to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As a state winner in the contest, Maryott and GCHS automatically become eligible to compete for a larger technology prize of $35,000-$140,000.
Contest entrants were initially asked how they would use technology to enhance their school and community. Once she became a finalist, Maryott was required to submit a detailed lesson plan about the class undertaking.
“We’re doing a bumblebee project with an entomologist at UNL (University of Nebraska-Lincoln),” Maryott said. “Bumblebees are diminishing in numbers significantly. It’s a big problem. Bumblebees pollinate almost all of our food crops. In Iowa, we grow food.”
Maryott said she learned of the UNL bumblebee project while attending a workshop in Nebraska for science teachers. She expressed interest in getting her students involved to the entomologist and he had no problems with a school from Iowa helping with the research.
“What my kids are going to do is research on bumblebee nesting habitat,” Maryott said. “I did not know that bumblebees nest only once a year. The new queen hibernates, comes out in the spring and fights off the other queens for the best nesting habitat. Then she starts laying eggs. They hatch. When their nests get a certain size, she mates with one of them and makes a new queen. Everyone dies in October, she burrows into the ground and the whole thing starts again."
The Glenwood students will be making artificial nesting boxes, from clothes dryer lint and other materials, and then monitor which boxes, if any, attract bees.
“We’re running out of nesting habitat because we till up so much ground,” Maryott said.
From a technology standpoint, Maryott envisions utilizing video equipment to monitor the nesting boxes.
“I thought that would be really cool to get video equipment and maybe some cool cameras. We could have something like a bee cam,” she said.
As an entrant in the national competition, Maryott is required to submit a 2-3 minute video further explaining her lesson plan for the project.