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Bumble bees are an excellent organism for engaging high school students in research. They are a recognizable insect and an important pollinator, and much remains to be discovered about the biology of many species. Bumble Boosters was a teaching and research project funded by the Nebraska Lottery’s Educational Innovation Fund. The project began in June 1999 and ended in June 2002. Bumble Boosters created a community of students networking through the Internet to conduct authentic research on Nebraska bumble bee species. Throughout the state, 40 high schools participated in the project, which supported teaching and research objectives.
Teaching objectives were to raise student and public awareness of the environmental importance of pollinating insects, enhance students’ understanding of the process of conducting scientific investigation, increase students’ knowledge of insect biology and pollination ecology, engage students’ abilities in networking with other students and leaders to solve a shared problem, and develop students’ abilities to use Web pages to learn and to share information.
The research objectives of the project were to better define the distribution and diversity of bumble bee species in Nebraska, identify the floral species that are preferred by Nebraska bumble bee species, and investigate artificial domiciles for improving the nesting success of Nebraska bumble bee species.