Local elementary school-aged children are being guided by Mount Royal University faculty and students as citizen scientists through “hands-on” field-oriented activities. These children build and install bumble bee boxes to examine the impact of modern climate change on these important pollinators. Collection of glacial till pebbles permits the children to examine climate change through the rock record to 400 million years ago. Some of this project’s goals include: i) guide children towards becoming environmental stewards, ii) guide communities towards protecting their local green spaces through their children and families, and iii) engage children in science at very young ages. In 2014, the youngest group of GBB participants (grade 2) was awarded the “Making a difference award” at the 2014 City of Calgary Mayor’s Environmental Expo for their “Incredibee” project.

Components of the Geological Bumble Bee Project are designed to augment the Alberta Science Curriculum and to be flexible to meet the desires/needs of teachers and students. In 2013, the pilot two schools (>100 children) built and installed >120 bumble bee boxes and analyzed >100 glacial till pebbles. In 2014, the project grew to four schools (>200 children) with >200 bumble bees boxes being built and installed and a further >200 glacial till pebbles being analyzed. There are currently 10 MRU students and alumni volunteer mentors involved in various components of this program. Data from this project is currently being analyzed by two MRU student groups who recently presented two posters at the annual Geological Society of America Conference in Vancouver. As a professor, witnessing the children’s enthusiasm and curiosity about the world around them makes it all worthwhile (Dr. Katherine Boggs). Nathan Scherger (one of the alumni researchers) said that “taking the kids out in the field to find their wooden beehives is better than Christmas morning”. Quotes from grade two students that reflect on the impact of these experiences include: “Yesterday, we build bee boxes! I think that was the best day of my life so far! “, and “I used to think that bees were mean, nasty, and not helpful. Now my feelings have changed about bees. Now I know that bees are helpful to the world.”

To learn more about The Geological Bumble Bee project you may contact Dr. Katherine Boggs at kboggs@mtroyal.ca.