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UF Experts Provide Educational Resources on Mosquito-Related Issues

By Sydney Honeycutt

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New educational resources from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences covering mosquito-related topics are now available for teachers to download and use in their classrooms.

The UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources has developed lesson plans, content outlines, worksheets and presentations appropriate for elementary, middle and high school levels as part of Prevent & Protect, a project aimed to communicate the importance of mosquito control efforts and how residents can help reduce mosquito populations.

Prevent & Protect educational resources were developed to increase mosquito awareness in youth and foster conversations about mosquito-related issues.

Casey Parker, an entomology and nematology doctoral student at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida, led the development of the elementary school resources for fourth- and fifth-grade students. The elementary school lesson plans focus on mosquito biology and include a content outline, worksheet and homework assignment.

“We created lesson plans that address multiple state standards in Florida,” said Parker, a student in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). “With this curriculum, students will learn about mosquito biology, disease transmission and control methods. Armed with this information, students can make choices that reduce the mosquito population in their area and better protect themselves from mosquitoes.”

The middle and high school lesson plans were developed by J.C. Bunch, an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication, and a team of students. The lesson plans were tested in classrooms throughout Florida and then revised accordingly.

“It is always beneficial when you have the chance to pilot test new curriculum,” Bunch said. “The ability to pilot gives designers an opportunity to enhance the curriculum for positive student impact.”

The middle and high school curriculum includes four lessons focused on mosquito biology, source reduction, mosquito-borne illnesses and control practices. Teachers can also utilize the content outline, worksheets, PowerPoint slides and a unit exam.

“The lesson plans were designed with the help of experts in mosquito biology and curriculum development,” said Heather Yoder, an agricultural education and communication undergraduate student in CALS who helped design the educational resources. “This ensures that teachers and students with varying experiences can gain a greater knowledge of mosquitoes and learn how to do their part in mosquito control.”

In addition to lesson plans and curriculum, interactive educational experiences have been developed as part of the Prevent & Protect project. An electronic field trip program, “Scientist Online: The Science of Mosquitoes,” allows students around the world to connect with entomologists at the University of Florida.

“We connected with classrooms in Canada, Pennsylvania, Florida and Pakistan,” said Jamie Loizzo, an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication, who led the development of the electronic field trip program. “The entire program is a great example of how science communicators, educators and scientists can work together to improve awareness of mosquito research and prevention.”

All educational resources are free and available for download at https://preventmosquitoes.org/education/lesson-plans/.

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For more information, contact Ashley McLeod-Morin at ashleynmcleod@ufl.edu.

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS website at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media.

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