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Host a Dragonfly Workshop this Summer!
Perfect for Nature Centers, Schools, Universities, and Learning Centers
Highlights: Hands-on outdoor dragonfly catching, ID instruction, and comprehensive Odonata natural history
- Activities for using dragonflies in education correlated with the K-12 Science Framework and state standards
- Instructions and activities for catching and raising dragonfly nymphs
- A copy of the new Dragonfly Curriculum Guide
- Best practices for bringing students outdoors
- Dragonfly citizen science through the Minnesota Odonata Survey Project
- 4 CEUs
The workshop is appropriate for all educators, naturalists, or anyone who works outdoors with children. The four-hour workshop is facilitated by Ami Thompson in association with the Minnesota Odonata Survey Project. Ami is a high energy environmental educator and nature lover. She fosters an environment of creativity, community, and scientific integrity.
This workshop will enrich your center’s offerings and give opportunities for follow-up programs and citizen science participation.Your organization will receive $10 of the registration fee for each participant you register.
Workshops are currently being scheduled for May – October, 2013.
Contact Ami Thompson for more information or to schedule a workshop date:email@example.com
- a sample of the dragonfly classroom activities
- participant evaluation data from 2012 Dragonfly Workshops
- Ami Thompson’s resume
Friends and Educators, thank you so much for your participation in and support for this summer’s Dragonfly and Digital Photography Bridge to Nature Workshops!
About 100 educators attended dragonfly workshops this summer, hosted all around the state.
The feedback I received from you was overwhelmingly positive; the word cloud above is derived from all of this summer’s workshop evaluations. The average overall workshop rating was 4.87 (5 being excellent).
1. Dragonfly Curriculum Guide
I have collected all your comments and feedback (please keep it coming!) and am revising the guide this winter, with the goal of publishing a printed version next spring.
2. 2013 Dragonfly Workshops
More dragonfly workshops will be hosted upon the return of the migrating adult Common Green Darners next spring! If your school or district would be interested in hosting a workshop please let me know.
3. Lasers and Optics Curriculum Guide Development
I am writing activities related to light, lasers, and optics this winter in partnership with Laser Classroom. Free activities will be posted about once a month on both of our blogs. (Teaser: Our last experiment involved glowing cupcakes, and our first activity requires gummy bears!)
4. Digital Photography Bridge to Nature
I’m honored to continue to be part of this MN DNR program. Email me if you would like to attend a FREE workshop! If you have already attended a workshop, let me know if you want to check out a camera kit or have a facilitator come to your classroom for a photo safari.
Just today I heard a report of the first Common Green Darners migrating back into the Minnesota (through the Minnesota Odonata Survey Project Facebook Page). That is nearly a month early! While maybe a bit phenologically creepy; its great news for the April and May Dragonfly workshops – meaning we are more likely to have dragon and damselflies on wing to catch and ID (if the weather continues to cooperate).
Over a dozen dragonfly workshops are set up all around Minnesota and Western Wisconsin thanks to the hard work of three amazing women (the first Ami T LLC staffers): Eve Stein, Rita Hussman, and Sonja Tosteson. Workshops in cool places like Itasca State Park, the International Wolf Center, Maplewood Nature Center, and many other places are all listed on the teacher workshops page.
Many of the dragonfly workshops have been combo-ed up with Digital Photography Bridge to Nature Workshops for full-day 8-CEU adventures where we while capture, ID, and photograph as many Odonata as we can catch
Eve Stein is focusing on organizing workshops in northern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Her bio was so chocked-full I needed to trim it down, but if you end up on the phone with her ask her to tell you more about her amazing life.
“Eve Stein is a native of southern Wisconsin transplanted to Duluth in search of more cold and snow, yet continues to be an avid Packer fan. Her background is in the elementary classroom, technology, and special education. Eve has worked at environmental, autism and science camps for K through high school students. During her spare time she trail runs, mountain bikes, Nordic skis, skijors, dragon boats, canoes, plays tennis, takes nature photography, mentors, visits the BWCA, volunteers, plays violin and much more! The event she is most proud of is her recent accomplishment of pushing her newly disabled father up Mount Lemmon during a half marathon at altitude. ”
Rita Hussman is a wonderful friend and now a equally-wonderful co-worker organizing workshops mostly in the metro area.
“Rita Hussman owns and operates a small nature-based business, Little Black Hoof Ventures LLC, and has more than 20 years of experience working with children, youth, families and communities. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide, Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteer and currently serves as the Minnesota State Advocate for the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.”
Sonja Tosteson is a recent collage grad with an incredible energy and passion for environmental education, she is organizing workshops mostly in metro area suburbs.
“Sonja Tosteson is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Environmental Studies and works as an Educator Workshop Organizer for Ami Thompson Consulting LLC. She has a strong background in developing and teaching environmental education, as well as great dedication to today’s youth. She invites you to learn about and share the incredible education opportunities available through Ami Thompson Consulting LLC.”
Minnesota Science Teachers Association Conference
I presented some the activities from the draft Dragonfly Curriculum Guide at the 2012 Minnesota Science Teachers Conference in Duluth a few weeks ago to great success. Thank you to all of the teachers who attended my session and volunteered to review the guide.
Dragonfly emerging at the MnSTA Conferece
Amazingly, one of the dragonfly nymphs I brought to the exhibit table emerged during the conference! The brave little fellow was released, with permission, in Como Park’s tropical bird exhibit so he would be able to stretch his wings a bit (hopefully) before becoming part of the zoo’s food chain.
Starting in March, I will be offering an Optics and Lasers workshop in partnership with Laser Classroom.
The premise is much the same as the hugely successful Digital Photography Bridge to Nature Workshops I’ve been lucky to be part of for the past couple years: utilize students’ natural affinity for technology to jump start learning and re-energize teachers by giving them the tools to teach the “same-old” content in new ways. A metro-area teacher who checked out a Digital Bridge camera kit reported that her time with the cameras “was the best 2 weeks of teaching I’ve had in a long time!”
What the classroom lasers look like
Colette DeHarpporte, of Laser Classroom, and I met at our co-working space and formed a fast natural partnership. She is utilizing her family business’ laser technology to develop affordable and functional student-ready lasers and I am working to develop curriculum-based classroom activities and set up teacher workshops.
Here’s a very nice you tube news report about Kurt Mead and the Minnesota Odonata Survey Project which inspired the development of the Dragonfly Teacher Workshops. The Teacher Workshops will include all of the experiences you see in the video with a focus on how to bring this into the classroom and connect with current standards. Contact me to set up a workshop at your school.
A small group of us spent the morning learning the basics of Odonata life history and anatomy. Then we entered the field, nets-a-swinging, to catch and ID as many little buggers as we could.
Intrepid group pf Odonata Students led by Kurt
I learned two things that afternoon: catching dragon and damselflies was a lot of fun, and I’m not very good with a net. (However, I did manage to officially capture a new species of damselfly for the county. Which is an awesome part of this opportunity – Odonata distribution in Minnesota is so poorly known that the chances of discovering something new are quite high.)
Me with the County Record Damselfly (in the bag)
I wondered, how could I make this even more fun? (i.e. reduce the quantity of swing-and-miss frustration) then the answer came to me: the people-power of middle schoolers! A brief conversation with Kurt revealed a huge interest in bringing this this experience to teachers and students, but a lack of funding and time. So, I jumped in and developed the 2012 Dragonfly Teacher Workshops!
That’s the story of the Dragonfly workshops, now on to the Lasers.
I’m a self employed person, but I’m also an easily-distracted social creature. So there came a point when working from my home office (or nearby coffee shops) was clearly no longer the best option. So after an exhaustive search of rental spaces I discovered co-working. Co-working is sharing an office space with other self-employed or individually stationed people. Sort of like an office space co-op; so you get all the perks of an office at an affordable price = perfect. I checked out all the co-working spaces in MSP and easily landed at Joule in downtown Minneapolis (check out my office space at my Open House Sept. 16!).
Perhaps the best thing about co-working is meeting other awesome business owners. At Joule I met the talented Colette DeHarpporte, who is the President of Laser Classroom Colette has a strong passion and work history in education and community service. She wants to share her family business’ passion for optics and lasers with educators. I was immediately onboard with this idea – come on, its LASERS! So fun! So together we are crafting the Laser Optics Workshops.
The next step in the process is to schedule workshops and register teachers to attend.Can you host a worksop? Workshops can be hosted anywhere (somewhere preferably near a wetland/pond/lake for the dragonflies) – including at schools, nature centers, or other educational institutions. Workshop hosts get discounts on attendance and kit check-out. Email me or Learn more here!
Notice the white legs and the white-sided thorax. If this moth had red on its legs or banding on its thorax is would likely be the slightly smaller and less common Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing Moth (Hemaris gracilis).
Its common name is obviously derived from its similar appearance to a ruby throated hummingbird and its clear wings. However, in my random googling of this little dude I came across this interesting statement about the origin of its latin name (from bugguide.net): “Pyramus (πυραμο&sigmaf); and Thisbe (θισβη) were lovers who died tragically–Pyramus found Thisbe’s blood-stained scarf, assumed she had been killed, and committed suicide with his sword. It seems likely the reference to the story of Thisbe is a reference to the rusty, somewhat blood-like coloration of this moth. Certainly the application of the genus Haemorrhagia is a reference to blood-like coloration.”
Background Scoop:The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) invited the Digital Photography Bridge to Nature program to present at their 2011 conference two weeks ago in Freeport, Grand Bahamas. Carrol Henderson (the brains-behind and creator-of Digital Bridge) invited out-state Digital Bridge Facilitator, professional nature photographer, and author Dudley Edmondson and me to attend the conference with him as the workshop facilitators. And because the Bahamas are, obviously, outside of Minnesota (and therefore outside the interests of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) we needed an organizational conduit to host the Digital Bridge Program: enter Jim Mallman Executive Director of Watchable Wildlife.
Carrol Henderson (middle), other superstar conference participants, Jim Mallman, and I traveling from the Freeport Airport to the Conference via vintage limo
At the conference, we had the honor of presenting two Digital Bridge Workshops. The first, was for 29 local educators hosted at the Rand Nature Center. Which also happens to be a HQ location for the Bahamas National Trust (think rough equivalent of the National Park Service). About the nature center: “The Rand Nature Centre comprises 100 acres of natural beauty in the heart of downtown Freeport, Grand Bahama. A 2,000-foot trail winds through natural coppice and Pine forest. A birder’s paradise, the center houses a variety of bird species that can be seen year-round.” (If anyone has photos of the workshop at the Rand would you please send them to me?)
Dudley and I (and our spouses) exploring the Rand Nature Center
Dudley and I looking for "life birds" at the Rand Nature Center
The second workshop was held at the conference facilities at Pelican Bay Resort. Round two hosted 44 conference participants who we let loose on the resort grounds with cameras, slightly alarming the regular-joe-vacationers laying poolside.
The workshop participants and conference attendees, from all around the Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Cayman Islands, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Barbados, and more), were very enthusiastic, welcoming, and remarkably naturally great photographers. Here are some samples of my favorites of their shots.
Bahamas Digital Bridge Workshop Photo by Stephen
Bahamas Digital Bridge Workshop Photo by Dorothy Diamond
Bahamas Digital Bridge Workshop Photo by Gail Woon
Bahamas Digital Bridge Workshop Photo by Inderia
Bahamas Digital Bridge Workshop Photo by Portia Sweeting
Overall, the workshops were very well received. Here are a couple comments I received via email this week:
“I took your workshop at the SCSCB meeting and enjoyed it profoundly. I was very inspired and entertained.”
“I would like to express gratitude for your (and your Team) excellent presentation. Please extend also my deep gratitude to Carrol and Dudley.”
The conference organizers were also remarkable (notably Lisa Sorenson), never before have I felt so valued and welcomed while attending or presenting at a conference. The conference attendees demonstrated an inspiring balance of jovial good humor and intellectual knowledge and concern about their avian species of expertise. Furthermore the international cooperation highlighted at the conference was mind-blowing; especially to someone like myself who spent a few years working for the NPS, including wading through all the legal paperwork required to write an international sister park agreement with Parks Canada.
The SCSCB has totally won me over and I will be a continued supporter. To make this relevant to all you Minnesota Educators, the SCSCB coordinates/supports much of the work behind International Migratory Bird Day, including selecting the annual theme.
I owe many thanks to Carrol Henderson for allowing me to be part of the Digital Photography Bridge to Nature program and for giving me the huge honor of presenting the workshops at the SCSCB Bahamas Conference.
8/7/11 UPDATE: Baby crab spiders hatched last week! The mama stuck around for a couple days, and yesterday she was gone; still lots of baby crab spiders hanging out by the egg sack today.
I just returned from a week in the Bahamas and am pleasantly surprised at all that has bloomed and changed in our yard (except for the explosions of garden weeds). A post about the Bahamas trip and the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds coming soon. Overall the trip was a huge success with 75 people participating in Digital Bridge workshops.
Back in Minnesota, I’ve been keeping my eye on this crab spider (Misumena vatia?) guarding her egg sack on a common milkweed in our front yard. She has been doing this for at least three weeks now and has grown a lot over the past week.
Crab Spider on Common Milkweed, by Ami Thompson
I’m still working with that new Sony camera, it was much smaller and lighter for the trip. But I’m still on the fence about whether it lives up to being touted as good as an SLR. I hope to learn more by practicing on the flora and fauna in the yard. Right now I’m still a little clumsy with it, so I don’t think its fair to judge until I get to know it better.