- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Photos, that is, of children's candid expressions?
Curiosity, delight and awe punctuated the open house, co-hosted by the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the American Arachnological Society (AAS), last Saturday afternoon in the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
The event drew Iael Raij-Hoffman, a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, and her son, Shaked Hoffman, 5, of Davis.
Marta Erismann, 8, of Sacramento, attended with her father, Fernando Erissmann. "She has her sights set on attending UC Davis when she grows up," the father shared. He said he will be studying biomedical engineering in graduate school this fall at UC Davis.
Alexis Rainwater, 8, of Woodland, attending with her parents, participated in many of the activities, including crafting a spider, and submitting a name for the new species of spider in a contest coordinated by the Jason Bond arachnology lab.
Twenty-one-month-old Eleanor Bielski was fascinated by a jarred spider specimen that her mother, Laura McKay held up for her to see.
The open house, "Eight-Legged Encounters, " was a free, family friendly event and an opportunity to talk to the "powerhouse" of arachnologists enrolled in the American Arachnological Society (AAS) conference at UC Davis. The open house kicked off their June 26-30 meeting.
Some 20 tables with exhibits and hands-on activities lined the hallway of Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124, showcased spiders as well as insects. The museum houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, as well as a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and an insect-themed gift shop.
The hallway tables featured spider specimens, live arachnids, and art and science activities, noted AAS conference co-chair and arachnologist Jason Bond, associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Co-host of the open house was Professor Eileen Hebets of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, recipient of a U.S. National Science Foundation grant, “Eight-Legged Encounters,” designed to connect arachnologists with communities, especially youth.
Hebets seeks to educate the public “about the wonders of biology and the possibility of scientific discovery using a charismatic and engaging group of animals--arachnids. Arachnids (spiders and their relatives) are ubiquitous, thriving in most habitable environments on our planet (including underwater),” she says on her website.
On Tuesday, June 28, AAS is sponsoring a series of arachnid lectures, free and open to the public, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the newly constructed 600-seat lecture hall, California Hall. The event will be casual, with scientists discussing their work, Bond said.