Nature study

Our planet is made of chemistry. All life, from microbes to plants to animals, uses chemicals to communicate with their world. Chemical cues allow us to communicate with the largest elephants and the smallest bacteria; and can be used to protect crops from pests, identify novel pharmaceuticals, or prevent the spread of disease. In this article, the author examines the role of chemical interactions between living organisms and their environment.

 What makes flies different from a dragonfly or a butterfly? How do the lovely iridescent bluebottle and greenbottle flies help solve murders? What do insect bites, galls and chocolate have in common? Do flies have taste-buds? How do we introduce flies in science classrooms? This article explores the fascinating world of true flies, their incredible variety, and the diversity of services they provide us with, ending with an activity that teachers can use to unravel one aspect of the life of flies to students.

Vena Kapoor works with the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Bengaluru on nature education, outreach and public engagement. She is fascinated by the natural world and enjoys sharing this passion and wonderment with children and young adults. She has a soft corner for spiders — taking unsuspecting people for spider walks whenever possible.

Imagine a remote village cut off from mobile signals and noise. Think of a place surrounded by forests, hills and streams where a cluster of huts make up a school. How do you think children learn there?

The teacher can help students become aware of nature by introducing them to the different kinds of trees that can be found even in cities. From trees and plants, it is but a step towards getting acquainted with birds. Children will love going outdoors and this break from monotony will also be rejuvenating.

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