Pa. school holds bugfest

May 10, 1997


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The underlying lessons were about pollution, and saving natural resources, but kids at the Montessori School of Chambersburg hardly realized they were being hit with such weighty issues as they crowded around tables of hissing cockroaches and bugs under microscopes.

Scott Hackenburg stayed busy sifting crayfish and caddisfly larvae out of a tray of water to explain their physical characteristics and how they survive in the wild.

At the next booth over, hissing cockroaches from Madagascar were a big hit, even though all the attention was too much for them.


"It's hard to make them hiss," said seven-year-old Danielle Guarriello as she and her friends made their way through the school's first Bug Fair.

Greg Paulson, the entomologist who brought the fat scaly insects, finally had to tell Guarriello that they were "all hissed out."

Jane Charlesworth, chairperson of the Bug Fair, said she got the idea for the event after she met children's author Robert Bender at a recent school function. Charlesworth's children immediately took a liking to Bender's tales, which often revolve around insects, so she figured the real thing would have to be a hit.

"This just goes to prove our theory is correct. Kids love bugs," said Charlesworth as she stood in the middle of the packed Bug Fair Sunday afternoon.

The Montessori School of Chambersburg, located along Scotland Avenue, focuses on creating a love for learning in students. The process starts by teaching students individually, said Mary Jane Bittle, who founded the school. Up until kids are six years old, they are developing their self-esteem, a process that should not be interrupted by competition with other students, Bittle said.

Keeping the students' mind clear of distractions then clears the way for learning, and allowing kids to hone in on the things they find interesting, said Bittle.

The Bug Fair was another way for the school to teach kids about the world around them. And if they listened real close, they started to learn that bugs just aren't just here to goggle at.

Hackenburg, program coordinator at the Kings Gap Environmental Education Center in Carlisle, told students how his collection of dragon fly larvae and caddisfly can rate the quality of a stream. The insects can only tolerate clean water, so if you can spot them, you know there has been no pollution in the stream, said Hackenburg.

The $1 admission fee for adults and 50 cent admission fee for children helped raise money for the school. Inside, ant farms and bug books were for sale.

Fly fishing may seem like a sophisticated adult sport, but Roy "Bugs" Stevens said the kids responded well to his display. Stevens represented Falling Spring Greenway, Inc., a group which was formed to restore Falling Spring, a trout steam which winds through Chambersburg.

Falling Spring is nationally recognized as one of the premier limestone streams in the East, but some parts of it have been seriously degraded, according to the group. There are several characteristics that make the stream unique, such as the Shasta trout that thrive there.

It is said the Shasta trout started its life in the stream after a truckload of the fish on its way to a favorite fishing spot of J. Edgar Hoover's broke down. Instead of taking the fish to their destination, the truck driver dumped them in Falling Spring, said Stevens.

"I'd like to make every child a fly fisherman," said Stevens.

The Herald-Mail Articles