The documentary-style introduction for Classify
Insects provides background knowledge about insects and true
bugs. The presentation also introduces students to Randall “Toby”
Schuh, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History.
After viewing the introduction as a class, use the following
(PDF) to help students grasp key points such as the scientific
definition of true bugs and why insects are a prime example of
Dr. Randall “Toby” Schuh never met a bug he didn’t
like. Growing up in rural Oregon, he and his father loved to collect
beetles. Today, Toby works for the American Museum of Natural
History as an entomologist, a professional scientist who studies
insects and travels the world searching for rare six-legged creatures
Insects are a dazzling example of the diversity of life on Earth.
Scientists have described about one million species of insects,
but there are literally millions more out there. The estimated
number of individual insects is mind boggling. If you divided
up the world’s total insect population, there would be 1.5
billion bugs per person! (Feeling itchy?)
Toby’s specialty is “true bugs.” Most people
use the word “bug” to describe any tiny thing that
runs across the floor. Scientists use “bug” only to
describe a special group of insects that have piercing-and-sucking
mouthparts, which drain fluids from plants, animals, and people.
Toby is in charge of a project called the Planetary Biodiversity
Inventory or PBI. Its goals are to investigate the biodiversity
of true bugs, to collect and describe new species, to learn about
their host plants, and to begin to understand evolutionary relationships
among bug species.
Choose “Activities” from the menu to see teaching
ideas and learning connections.
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