Sunday, 9 February 2014

Social Insects & School Children

Life existed on earth for about 2,500 millions years. Primitive man arrived on the earth perhaps a couple of million years ago. Modern man emerged as the dominating species on the earth only about forty thousand years ago. His existence as a farmer and settler is just about ten thousand years alone. In this short span of time and largely in the last two hundred years; which is just a fraction of a second on the evolutionary time scale, he has caused a considerable damage to the rest of the living world.

Nature has existed for millions of years without man.  And probably it can also exist without man. But man cannot exist without nature. He depends on nature for all his needs – food, clothing, and shelter and sustenance. Inter relationships between plants; animals and the environment are there. It is called symbiosis relationship. It maintains the ecological balance.

Towards the progress man has affected the earth several ways – through deforestation, destruction of wildlife and pollution. It leads to ecological imbalance. The present day concerns through for environmental conservation and the problems that we face through depletion of resources and polluting the environment are dramatically exhibited in this section bring to light how these affect the delicate network of nature.

India is very rich in biological diversity with about 75,000 species of animals and 45,000 species of plants. Our country is blessed with vast varied and diverse soil and climatic conditions, which are suitable for the growth of almost every plant & animal species. Presently biology is being taught in schools as subject and emphasis has been given on the only theoretical aspects so that students can understand the basic principle. Very less attention has been given in the practical aspects. Students know the different animals or plants are differentiated with their shape, feature & size. They understand these things from their picture book. Students who live in city, they have no practical knowledge about the nature. If students have got a chance to see the natural habitats of social Insects, their breeding pattern and overall life cycle, then their interest in Nature will be increased and it will be helpful for their further study. Also they will know Nature has given a specific type of creature for a particular geographical location, which on over exploitation gives way to some other creature, which have a low position from the ecological point of view. The threat to this biological diversity due to over exploitation and habitat destruction is a major challenge. So to sensitize the students about the importance of nature and value of biodiversity of our day to day life and grow interest about the nature their active involvement in action programmes is important.

Conservation of natural resources does not mean just preserving wild life and plant at the expense of man. It is a matter of own survival. The four pillars on which conservation stands are

  1. Ethical: - We have the freedom of choice to destroy or preserve –to wipe out a species or to prevent its extinction. It is our moral duty to hold in trust and conserve our natural heritage and pass it on intact to succeeding generations.

  1. Aesthetic: - We enjoy seeing animals and plants. They are beautiful and interesting. Nature is a continuous source of inspiration and infinite pleasure.

  1. Scientific:- Man’s own survival depends upon the nature. He is part of the intricate relationship between living things.

  1. Economic: wild life is a natural resource. It is a source of continuing supply of raw materials.

Society for Environment and Development (SED) is a voluntary organization is committed to protect, preserve, and conserve the environment. Environmental awareness is the basic tool for protection of the environment. Children are the future citizens of the country. Hence, involvement of school children in environmental activity is necessary. So, SED is organising series of Teachers Training Programme on Social Insects & Environment across the northern states of India to motivate them to teach students about conservation of natural resources, which will be helpful for students. So far programmes are organized in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. Many more programmes are in pipeline in other states.

The three day module includes presentation, fieldwork, development of teaching aid, demonstration of natural habitats of Ants, Bees, Termites and Wasps. There are three main objectives:

- - Inculcation of scientific temperament among students through small experimentation on life and behavior of Social Insects

    - Induce social values among children, which is being decreasing in our society, through these small insects

-  - Conservation of Environment in general and biodiversity in particular with developing interest about small creatures of nature.  


  1. It would be extremely interesting for the school children to know about the biology and behaviour of some of these social insects as many lessons could be drawn from them.

  2. The module so developed is expected to be applied in other parts of the country, so that teachers can be proficient enough in the subject to transmit the basic scientific understanding of social insects to children.