A Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) employee, listening to the radio on her way in to work, was thrilled to hear a student at a school she had recently visited get all the questions right in a quiz on mosquitoes.
Earlier in May MRCU’s new junior entomologist Whitney Ebanks joined outreach volunteer Florence (Flo) McNelly to introduce MRCU’s work to some 150 years five and six maths students at Cayman Prep School.
Cayman Prep Primary Maths Leader Julie Cheriton made contact with Ms McNelly, when she reached out to MRCU in mid-March to request a mosquito programme with a maths theme for the age group.
“I was so excited to meet with Flo, as she was keen and willing to work with us. We thoroughly enjoyed this first of hopefully many outreach projects with MRCU. The children also benefited from wonderful opportunities to research and have a contextual experience of maths in the real world”, Ms Cheriton says.
To celebrate Maths Week she and Ms McNelly developed a five-day programme that gave the MRCU team roughly two hours with the students each day, to teach them about the relationship between mosquitoes and maths.
During this time the young people aged nine to 11 were able to count mosquito eggs and watch the insects develop from the egg stage to adult mosquitoes.
In addition Ms McNelly taught them how containers around homes and businesses can create a breeding ground for potential disease vectors (insects that transmit disease), like the Aedes aegypti mosquito and Aedes albopictus.
They also learned about diseases that mosquitoes carry such as chikungunya, dengue, malaria and heartworm.
From Whitney, a young Caymanian recently employed by MRCU, they heard about the five most abundant mosquito species in the Islands and the habitats in which they live.
As part of the outreach the students were challenged to inspect their residences/property for containers that mosquitoes might use as breeding sites.
Any schools or youth organisations that may be interested in a similar outreach partnership with MRCU should contact the department at 949-2557.