Students Release Mini Monsters in Forest Park Visitor's Center

From March to May, visitors to Forest Park will enjoy The College School's "Mini Monster" exhibit in the main gallery of the Forest Park Visitor's Center. For the past five months, the third grade class worked closely with team members from Forest Park Forever and the St. Louis Zoo to document the plethora of insect species that call Forest Park home.

Far beyond the basic book report, students assumed the roles of entomologist, artist, author, journalist and copy editor through their journey from insect selection to unveiling their work. Although insects were the focus of their study, the class came away with new insights on perseverance and struggle through the long-term assignment. After drafting numerous drawings of the Northern Walking Stick, Theo shared there is "a lot more detail than most people would think." Speculating about adulthood, Ellie drew parallels with future challenges and explained that being motivated by an "ethic of excellence" would serve the class well as adults.

For the past three years, The College School has been tapped to be a regular exhibitor for Forest Park Forever's educational programming. Prior exhibits included: Wildflowers of Forest Park (2014), and Birds of Forest Park (2013).

Student Quotes and Perspectives:

What We Did:

Building on previous studies of wildflowers and birds of Forest Park, this year’s Third Grade class took on a challenge from Jean Turney (Education Coordinator, Forest Park Forever) to investigate the insects of Forest Park. Between December and February, we worked through many steps to create this display:

• We toured Forest Park in our school bus to observe insect habitats
• Jean arranged activities for us to learn about insect anatomy and lifecycles
• Each student picked an insect to study
• We conducted research in our classroom and at the Zoo’s Insectarium
• We interviewed Bob Merz, Zoological Manager of Invertebrates, Bill Borchardt, Invertebrate Keeper, and Michael Dawson, Conservation Education Liaison
• At school, we worked with our art teacher to create drawings of our insects
• For each insect, we then wrote a narrative that had a description, information about its habitat and other interesting facts
• Both the drawings and the narratives went through several drafts with our teachers and peers

In the end, we are proud to share our research and drawings about the interesting insects of Forest Park.
- Third Grade Students Alexis, Jackson & Livia 

What We Learned:

This project helped us learn in many ways:
• We learned that even though people complain about insects, many can be helpful
• We learned specific and interesting information about our insects including names of their body parts, whether they have a complete or incomplete life cycle, and their colors and shapes
• We learned about insect habitats within Forest Park
• We learned to interview experts at the Saint Louis Zoo and take notes
• We learned that if you take advice, you can make your work better
• We learned that you can also get better with practice just like in sports
• We learned that it helps to break a big project into small pieces

Our insect study was not easy. We put in a lot of work and took advice from others. We learned that usually our first draft is not our best work. Some of us did more than five drafts to get our work as good as it could be. Our class is proud to share our hard work with you through this display at the Forest Park Visitor Center.

- Third Grade Students Ellie, Charlie, Kate and Sophie B