One of the highlights of the HOPE year is the summer school which gives young people a unique insight into both the fascinating world of insects and the equally-intriguing behind-the-scenes work at the museum.
We had to make our summer school virtual in 2020, so we were really pleased to be able to run it at the Museum this year. The wonderful group of enthusiastic young people who joined us spent a week in August exploring the British Insect Collection and the work of entomologists, developing their skills and doing their own research.
Insight into the Museum
Monday started with an introduction to the world of insects and the ‘Big 5’ British orders, a tour of the entomology department with Collections Manager Dr James Hogan, and some live insect handling. The young entomologists then put their identification skills to the test with some insect hunting with Collections Assistant Louis Lofthouse in the University Parks.
On Tuesday we were joined by wildlife photographer Kirk Mason who showed us techniques to develop our insect photography skills at the Botanic Gardens. The fabulous Merton borders and a sunny day meant there was no shortage of subjects! Look out for a future post showcasing the fantastic images the young people took.
On Wednesday and Thursday the summer school moved to Harcourt Arboretum where the group learned about practical insect collection techniques with Collections Assistant Ryan Mitchell. They then devised and carried out their own investigations over the two days, joined by Senior Collections Manager Darren Mann on Thursday. We also set up a light trap on Wednesday afternoon, opening it the next morning to reveal the selection of moths that had settled inside, including the Black Arches, Lymantria monacha, pictured above.
On final day of the summer school, Steven Williams from the HOPE team led the group through pinning preserved insect specimens for themselves. We finished with a celebratory showcase event where our young entomology team shared all that they had done over the week with families and friends.
And there’s more…
Some of our summer school participants were inspired to write their own articles for the blog. Here is Ben’s post, Raising Moths, and we will be publishing more soon. If you’re feeling inspired, why not get in touch using the Contact Us page? Keep an eye on the blog for news of future events at the Museum from the HOPE for the Future Team.