“Cicada Olympics” arouses curiosity and competition | Securities
Bugs are bothering us. This bothers science educator Cindy Smith, so much so that she wrote a book, “Cicada Olympics”, so that children can stop being afraid of insects and understand their importance in nature and in the human world.
The recently published book is aimed at educators, parents and anyone looking for educational fun with cicadas, which do not bite and do not sting.
“Many fear the big cicadas because they emerge in the millions, sing a thunderous song, awkwardly fly around anything in their path, and stare unblinkingly with their pearly red eyes,” said Smith, who lives in Nokesville and is the K-12 Education and Outreach Director of the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center at the Potomac Science Center in Woodbridge. “When you take the time to get to know them personally, it’s amazing what you can learn.”
This year’s emergence of Brood X encourages conversation about bugs, but the book’s origin dates back 17 years, when billions of Brood X’s cicadas were last extracted from the soil of Northern Virginia.
That year, 2004, Smith created the Cicada Olympic event at Nokesville Elementary School, where she was a parent volunteer. The second graders named the cicadas and made them homes. The cicadas drove cars and took part in competitions. The book, “Cicada Olympics,” allows anyone to find a cicada, make a floating friend, and learn.
“When kids worry more about the well-being of their cicadas rather than their own fear, they can see cicadas – and other insects – from a new perspective,” Smith said.
At the 2004 Cicada Olympics, students like then 8-year-old Ryan McIntyre built a boat for his sailing cicada and cheered on his cicada athlete. McIntyre overcame his fear of insects. This event was one of many hands-on nature lessons that shaped the adult he is today – and his career.
“At that age, I remember mistaking a wheel bug for a spider, and I was shy about spiders, but fear turned to curiosity,” said McIntyre, who works with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. and will graduate from George Mason University this fall. “At one point, I became an environmentalist specializing in entomology.”
Alex Linsday, Smith’s son who was in second grade in 2004, said he still remembers the Cicada Olympics. “My brother and I were guinea pigs for Mom’s activities, and this one was especially memorable because all of my friends were so engaged.
Cicada Olympics is Linsday’s earliest memory of seeing the scope and impact of her mother’s work in science education – whether volunteering in elementary school or working at GMU.
Children’s reactions to the Cicada Olympics reverberated nonstop like the cicadas’ 80-decibel drone, so Smith wrote the book of the same name so that others at school or at home could engage in the class of nature. The book is about overcoming fear while teaching and learning with insects, explains the periodic life cycle of cicadas, and includes humor and activities about insects.
“A family that wants a fun weekend can go to their backyard or a country park to participate in 13 different learning events,” said co-author Richard Groover.