CodeJoy Welcomes Adam Lazarus to Join Us This Summer!

CodeJoy’s Amanda Jeane Strode interviews Adam Lazarus on bringing lessons from technology into the garden, and lessons from the garden into the classroom!
May 17, 2024 by
CodeJoy Welcomes Adam Lazarus to Join Us This Summer!
CodeJoy, Susan Willems

Introducing Adam Lazarus, the Bug Guy extraordinaire, and now, the newest addition to the team as Executive Director of EarthDwellers! A TEDx speaker, molecular evolutionary biologist, and former host of his own PBS kids' science show, Adam's lifelong dedication to insect science and storytelling has captivated audiences worldwide. From dissecting the intricate anatomy of beetles to revealing the fascinating behaviors of ants, Adam employs the drama of the microcosm to inspire stewardship of our planet. 

As Executive Director of EarthDwellers, his self-described mission is to empower students to channel their desire to help the Earth’s climate into projects and activities that lead to meaningful, positive change. This summer, alongside our very own Amanda Jeane Strode, Adam will help teachers engage in the great outdoors with their students through the portal of the BBC micro:bit! Join us as we welcome Adam Lazarus to EarthDwellers, where his passion for bugs meets his commitment to environmental education, creating a dynamic force for change.

Amanda Jeane Strode (AJS): What course are you teaching this summer and what makes you excited about it?

Adam Lazarus (AL): I am teaching Micro:bit in the Garden this summer with Amanda Jeane.  I am really excited about it, because the future of our climate depends on merging a love for nature with technology. I feel that this course is an excellent foundation for that for students and teachers.

AJS: How are you feeling about this collaboration with CodeJoy and EarthDwellers?

AL: I'm really excited about this collaboration because I have devoted much of my life to reacquainting ourselves with nature. Using the proven CodeJoy infrastructure is a great chance to reach a much larger audience than I've been doing up until this point.

AJS: What do you find rewarding about teaching educators?

AL: Perhaps the thing I find most rewarding about teaching educators is their ideas and what they add to how I think about my subject. Most educators are smarter than I am, and I'm continually blown away by how they think and plan things. Teacher input drastically improves my own mission. I also love meeting up with educators who are enthusiastic about spreading climate literacy, because now there are more of us!

AJS: When did you first become inspired in a STEM field?

AL: I was born loving insects. So I would say from a pretty early age. I love to continue to pursue it, but I can't really take credit for it in the way that some people can. I can't say that I held my nose to the grindstone and kind of weathered through thick and thin, doggedly held on to my love of insects. It sort of grabbed hold of me and I don't think I could shake it if I wanted to.

AJS: What are you looking forward to this summer?

AL: I'm spending the first part of the summer, all of the month of June, renting an Airbnb in New York's Hudson Valley. I come from the Northeast, and to me that's quintessential summer! Here in Los Angeles, it's much drier, and very little of the city habitat is at all natural. For example, a single yard may have plants from India, Japan, South Africa, Australia, England and the US. Most wildlife isn’t adapted for this, and so there are fewer insects and other animals here. I'm looking forward to the hot, humid, buggy days and nights of the Northeast! And then Burning Man at the end of the summer.

AJS: What are your thoughts on Environmental Literacy and its importance in schools and curriculum?

AL: An increasing number of us are moving out of rural, and even suburban areas, into cities. That is creating a greater and greater disconnect between ourselves and nature among more and more people. So right when we need to be thinking most about the climate, more and more of us are stepping away, and through no fault of our own we're losing our sense of attachment to nature. The question then becomes, “How do we get people to care? How do we get people to feel that?” 

For me, climate literacy is primarily about reigniting a love of nature. I think a desire to care for the land naturally follows this. Climate literacy in the classroom is past due, because many students who care deeply about the planet and want to make a difference have no place to channel their passion. This  leads to climate depression - or even worse, climate apathy - right at a time when we need to preserve that passion. So as I see it, the two critical things on which to focus are reigniting a love for nature, and opening channels for students to express their desire to steward the planet. With the help of others like yourself (Amanda Jeane), I’m developing opportunities in agriculture, resource management and activism to help students find what moves them and run with it.

AJS: Can you give us a preview to something we will be learning about in your course, Micro:bit in the Garden?

AL: We are going to use the micro:bit as an interpreter for the circadian rhythms of Earth, what the Earth is telling us, and in so doing, be able to respond to some of that language.

Another preview - we're going to be learning about a lot of incredible bugs, that if people weren't so concerned with size alone, would find every bit as mind blowing as a T-Rex or a triceratops.

I've done a lot of outreach in various forms. I've been on TV, I've given lots of talks, I've been a scientist and given lectures and written papers. This is a totally new kind of format for me. And I think approaching some type of Holy Grail, where live interactive teaching is blending more and more with entertainment. I feel that we're arriving at a new era of teaching that kind of takes the best from a lot of different worlds, and I'm really excited to show bugs continually to large audiences. We will have people realize that a lot of the things that they think are special, and that they'll only see on TV or on YouTube videos, are just kind of right outside or even right inside, it doesn't matter where they live, there are bugs around you and there are ways to interact with nature. I'm very excited to explore that space.

With a passion for all things creepy-crawly and an expertise that spans the insect kingdom, Adam is the founder of Laz Laboratories, a hub of entomological exploration and education. You might also recognize him from PBS's 2015-2016 series, Bug Bites, where he brought his infectious enthusiasm for bugs to audiences across the country. Adam's dedication to uncovering the mysteries of the insect world shines through in everything he does. We want to graciously thank Adam for bringing his expertise to our team! We can feel his excitement for this summer’s Micro:bit in the Garden course and can’t wait for you to join us in that amazing feeling! We’ll not only learn about the capabilities of the BBC micro:bit but also bring environmental literacy to the forefront in the classroom. If you’re a public school teacher or public librarian, we hope you’ll join us! Register for Micro:bit in the Garden by clicking HERE!

Connect with Adam on his socials!



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