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American Museum of Natural History


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Art, Social-Emotional Learning

Regional Focus


Extinct and Endangered: Insects in Peril

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  • This video addresses the important ecological role that insects play around the world, the way art is used to generate interest, action, and curiosity about insects, and the urgent need to protect natural habitats to preserve dwindling insect populations.
  • Students will learn how field biologists and entomologists are working to protect biodiversity as they attempt to understand the decline in insect populations.
Teaching Tips


  • The video features informing and engaging footage and interviews with photographers, scientists, and curators.
  • This video features footage of field work, interviews within the museum, and video clips of insects in their habitats.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This resource includes a complete transcript of the video.
  • Students should have prior knowledge of the concept of biodiversity.


  • Provide students with a note-taking guide to use while viewing the video, focusing on the evolution of insects, the roles that insects play in ecosystems, the threats faced by insect populations, and the role that humans play in insect population decline.
  • Give students time to read the transcript after watching this short video in order to add details to their notes, which will allow visual learners to more fully comprehend the concepts.
  • Students who require more background knowledge on the importance of biodiversity can watch this video about humans and biodiversity or watch this animated video about why biodiversity is so important.
  • Extension activities may include further research into mass extinction and its impacts using resources such as this video about species extinctions or this resource about biodiversity and extinction
  • Consider giving students time to explore the link to the exhibition and the artist's website, and then putting students into groups to research a particular endangered insect from the exhibit.
  • Art classes could discuss how the photographer in this project is using artistic expression to address insect population decline and biodiversity loss.
Scientist Notes
This resource introduces the issue of insect population decline through the lens of an insect photography exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. Museum curators and entomologists discuss the evolution of insects, the important roles they play in the ecosystem, and the threats insect populations face as humans continue to change the natural environment. A team performing a population survey of tiger beetles is presented to show the work being done to quantify the issue of insect population decline. This visually stunning resource presents the natural beauty of insects to engage viewers in the fight to save insect populations and is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
      • MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
      • HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
      • HS-LS2-6 Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • HS-LS4-5 Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.4 Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.
  • National Core Arts Standards
    • Visual Arts: Standard 7 - Perceive and analyze artistic work.
      • VA:Re7.2.8a Compare and contrast contexts and media in which viewers encounter images that influence ideas, emotions, and actions.
      • VA:Re7.2.IIa Evaluate the effectiveness of an image or images to influence ideas, feelings, and behaviors of specific audiences.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 8 - Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
      • VA:Re8.1.Ia Interpret an artwork or collection of works, supported by relevant and sufficient evidence found in the work and its various contexts.
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