The University of Arizona

UA Workshop has Area Teachers Incorporate Caterpillars into Curriculum

By Jeff Harrison, July 7, 2000

Manduca sexta, a caterpillar widely used in research at the University of Arizona, also will be the focus of a teaching workshop during the last week of July. The workshop links local elementary school teachers with UA scientists to provide educational activities for kids in kindergarten through third grades. Several middle school students will also have a role in the project.

In all, more than 20 teachers from the Tucson Unified, Sunnyside, Marana and Sahuarita school districts will participate.

The teachers will be on campus each day from Monday, July 24, through Friday, July 28, to learn how this versatile little organism can be incorporated in various ways into the curriculum. The obvious ones are science and mathematics, but opportunities for lessons in reading, writing, drama, art and music also abound.

The workshop, now in its sixth year, is team taught by Michael Wells, UA professor of biochemistry, and two elementary school teachers, Patricia Weaver and Cecelia Valenzuela. Classes are held in the Henry Koffler Building (CBS) in rooms 420 and 430.

Six middle school students from the Catalina Foothills District will help prepare materials for the Manduca workshop. On July 13, they will be assembling boxes that display the different instars (or stages) of the Manduca sexta that teachers will use during the workshop.

One of the highlights of the workshop is the annual Manduca race on Thursday, July 27, at 9 a.m. The race is based on the behavior the caterpillars exhibit when they reach a certain stage in their development and begin to "wander," searching for a dark hole in the ground in which to pupate.

The elementary school children who are involved in the Manduca Project return to campus in January to present their experimental results in poster form at the Undergraduate Biology Research Program Poster Conference. That conference will be held on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2001.

For more information, please contact Genevieve Kenney, 621-8510 or Carol Bender, 621-9348.

Manduca Project http://insected.arizona.edu/manduca/