Invertebrate Zoology class visits Children’s Center

May 20, 2013
Invertebrate Zoology class visits Children's Center

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The natural reaction when faced with an eight-inch tropical millipede is to recoil and exclaim in disgust, but that’s exactly what Rebecca Doyle-Morin and her Invertebrate Zoology class wanted to combat when they visited the Children’s Center at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

“Our goal was to make the children feel more comfortable around invertebrates,” said Doyle-Morin, assistant professor of biology. “We wanted to catch them at a young age and show them that these creatures are very important to our ecosystem.”

The children, aged primarily between 3 and 5 years old, received the opportunity to interact with a number of invertebrates including ladybugs, earthworms, preserved rhinoceros beetles and giant tropical millipedes. Students in Doyle-Morin’s class also prepared crafts, activities and songs for the children in order to garner interest in invertebrate life.

“Many of them were apprehensive about what they saw as creepy crawly creatures at first,” said Carl Oppert, a biology major from Viroqua, Wis., who attended the trip. “But after a while, they were excited to interact with the animals. It was fun seeing the kids come out of their shells to explore what they didn’t know about.”

As a second part of their invertebrate experience, the children from the Children’s Center also took a fieldtrip to the Invertebrate Zoology class’s lab to explore the ecosystem of a freshwater pond. Doyle-Morin’s students collected leeches for the children to see, snails for them to hold and certain types of plankton for them to look at under a microscope. The children also got to ask the students basic questions about the invertebrates in the lab.

“Our purpose for having students work with the children is two-fold,” said Doyle-Morin. “Firstly, the students needed to prepare a lot of background research on the animals we presented to know how to handle them and what habitat they thrived in best. The second is being able to educate the public about what they learned by targeting a specific audience. You need to be able to understand something very well if you are going to try to explain it to a 3 or 5 year old.”

Candi Palan is an animal science major from Highland, Wis., who also worked with the children. “It was very rewarding to see the looks on their faces,” she said. “It made us feel like what we showed them and the things we taught them really had an impact.”

Contact: Rebecca Doyle-Morin, biology, (608) 342-6156,
Written by: Angela O’Brien, UW-Platteville Office of University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194,


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