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Blue Banded Bees Create a Buzz in School
Dr Anne Dollin
A beautiful photograph of a blue banded bee.
Photo: Erica Siegel of Queensland
For five weeks all sorts of questions about blue banded bees (Amegilla) buzzed around classrooms across the world. Could these bees be affected by acid sulphate soils, or GM crops, or pesticides, or varroa mites? What parts of Australia do they live in? How many species of blue banded bees are there? What is buzz pollination? What effect would the loss of these bees have on plants in a town? Anne Dollin of Aussie Bee was recruited to help the team of scientists who answered the students’ flood of scientific questions. It was a very busy month indeed for Aussie Bee!
Almost 500 school teams finally hit on the correct solution:
‘Crime Site’: Caboolture, Qld;
‘Villain’: habitat clearing; and
‘Victim’: the blue banded bee.
In the second phase of the competition, the school teams were invited to submit detailed written plans about how such an environmental problem could be avoided in the future:
-- The ‘6H Superstars’ team of Neutral Bay Public School won first place in the Judges’ Choice category for their plan. They proposed setting up a public education program, a native plant sanctuary and artificial nest sites for the bees. They further suggested that Caboolture could be advertised as the ‘Home of the Blue Banded Bee’, perhaps with the construction of a giant blue banded bee as a tourist attraction!
-- The ‘Bombo’ team of Saints Paul and Peter Catholic Primary School won first place in the People’s Choice category for their plan. They proposed planting native trees, running breeding trials for the bees and restricting house building to protect native vegetation. They also suggested that mud brick houses and sculptures could be built to attract the blue banded bees.
The school teams were also invited to submit creative pieces and videos that expressed issues raised by the game:
-- Class 4/5B of Parramatta East Public School won first place in the Creative Piece category. They created a wonderful ‘Blue Banded Bee Rap’ video featuring children dressed as blue banded bees, dancing out the story in poetic form.
-- The ‘Citizens of Gleitzland’ team from Hoxton Park Public School won the Video category with their polished presentation showing how they researched their answers and displayed their findings.
All of the winning plans and videos can be seen by clicking on the links on this page on the Murder Under the Microscope website:
|The possible ‘victims’ in the 2009 Murder Under the Microscope game are compared on a classroom display board at Hawkesbury Independent School, NSW. The ‘Hawks’ team from this school won fourth place in the ‘EcoSleuths of 2009’ competition.|
The Murder Under the Microscope classroom game helped raise awareness of Australian native bees far and wide as the students and their teachers and families eagerly studied the habits of the blue banded bee in order to solve the mystery. We hope that this game has helped a whole generation of Australian children to better understand their environment and our precious native bees.
Murder Under the Microscope is run each year by the Centre for Learning Innovation and the NSW Department of Education and Training.
Visit this page on the Murder Under the Microscope website and click on the button at the bottom of the page to see the official solution to the 2009 Eco-Mystery:
Author: Anne Dollin
(See Anne Dollin's Google+ profile)
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