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Creepy bugs teach science

OSU’s Insect Adventure educates thousands of children each year
by Beverly Bryant, University Marketing, OSU Modified: August 20, 2014 at 9:55 am •  Published: August 25, 2014

photo - Dr. Andrine Shufran displays the heaviest walkingstick in the world, the Jungle Nymph.  (Photo by Insect Adventure)
Dr. Andrine Shufran displays the heaviest walkingstick in the world, the Jungle Nymph. (Photo by Insect Adventure)

For a little more than 10 years, a creepy-crawly program has been housed in a white cinderblock building west of OSU’s Stillwater campus.

Here scientists and children meet up with a variety of arthropods, arachnids and insects —  you know, bugs. Children are safely introduced to everything from a pinktoe tarantula to a giant red-headed centipede, all in the name of teaching science.

The Insect Adventure program has been open by appointment only, but starting in September will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first and third Saturdays each month. And the staff is very flexible when it comes to presentations.

“If you can dream it, we can bug it,” said Andrine Shufran, the coordinator of the program. She has been with OSU’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology since 2003 and is well versed in all things related to bugs.

Shufran is an associate extension specialist. She is involved in husbandry of many arthropod species, supervises student entomologists, maintains U.S. Department of Agriculture quarantine regulations and annually provides more than 300 educational programs to children.

Insect Adventure is much more fun for children than normal classroom lectures. It is an insect petting zoo that yearly brings more than 300,000 Oklahomans in contact with the planet's most numerous and diverse animals.

Insect Adventure houses more than 75 species of arthropods. It is the only facility in Oklahoma for the public to explore insect science.

“Arthropods account for 84 percent of all animal species, contrasted with vertebrates that make up 5 percent of animal species,” Shufran said.

There may be up to 30 million different insect species on Earth, but only about 1 million are known, she said.

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