It has been said that humans and insects are the two most successful creatures on Earth. Insects have been around much longer — they were here about 350 million years before humans entered the picture, which was only about 100,000 years ago.
Humans attempt to manage their environment, which allows us to manipulate our success as a species. Insects, on the other hand, do not have the powers of higher thought or the use of tools, as far as we know! What insects do have is the ability to adapt to a variety of habitats and lifestyles because of their small size, fast rate of reproduction, hard exoskeleton, and, often, the ability to fly. These traits have made insects the dominant group of animals on Earth (both on land and in fresh water). Their abilities also make them a very useful tool in the world of forensics.
Forensics is a hot topic, with many movies and popular television shows (such as "CSI") introducing youth to the tools, processes, and critical thinking skills needed to solve various crimes. Within this world, insects have a growing presence. The field of forensic entomology focuses on the information that insects provide investigators about the time, location, and criminal negligence within a wide variety of criminal cases (everything from food contamination to murder).
Using This Curriculum
This curriculum has been designed as a tool for teaching youth (grades 6–8) about the contributions that insects make to the world of forensics. This three-week series of lesson activities is designed for use in informal educational settings such as after-school programs, summer day camps, and 4-H clubs. However, this package also includes the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for teachers within formal classroom settings who may wish to incorporate these activities into their current lesson plans.
For the full content of this package, download the PDF version at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/4H/4H31000.pdf.