23 October 2023
Longer days and warmer nights, it’s the perfect recipe for mosquito season. But before you reach for the repellent, did you know that some species of mosquitoes rarely touch a drop of blood, instead favouring flower nectar? Or that mosquitoes only smell with their feet?
It’s facts like these that students will learn about in the University of South Australia’s new Mozzie Monitors in Schools program, a comprehensive and interactive learning experience about mosquitoes.
Launching now and extending to the end of term one in 2024, the free Mozzie Monitors in Schools program comprises an activity-based in-class lesson and a mosquito collection and citizen science experience supported remotely by scientists.
And it’s all in the name of STEM, says local mosquito expert UniSA’s Professor Craig Williams.
“Love or hate them, insects and creepy crawlies are always a drawcard for kids. So, when we bring them into the classroom, it’s a great opportunity to get students interested and excited about science,” Prof Williams says.
“Learning about mosquitoes in a fun and hands-on way can help students connect with the content in a meaningful way, all the while building their interest in biology, nature, and STEM.
“The in-class session involves a mix of presentation and participation, with students learning about different mosquito body parts and breeds, lifecycles, and ecology, as well as mosquito-borne diseases and how to control or protect against mosquitos.
“The outdoor part of the program involves the class collecting and identifying mosquitoes, then submitting their observations to the Mozzie Monitors project on the iNaturalist citizen science database.
“Students of all ages love setting up and monitoring the mozzie traps, and this activity is a fantastic way for teachers to keep their class engaged in ongoing citizen science investigations.”
Beyond encouraging interest in STEM, the Mozzie Monitors in Schools program also contributes to nation-wide citizen science data which not only promotes life-long learning, but also boosts mosquito knowledge.
“Ongoing tracking of mosquito populations can help scientists respond to new threats and pathogens,” Prof Williams says.
“Protecting ourselves against mozzie bites is one thing, but it’s also important to learn about how we can limit the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
“Actively engaging people in mosquito surveillance and citizen science can empower communities and improve public health literacy outcomes – and we can all play a role in this.”
Media contact: Annabel Mansfield M: +61 479 182 489 E: [email protected]
Researcher: Prof Craig Williams E: [email protected]