Looking for a way to entertain cooped-up children while encouraging them to learn? Summer explorers can get up close and personal with 6- and 8-legged creatures at Science Museum Oklahoma’s “Backyard Bugs: An Oklahoma Insect Adventure.” Open now, this hands-on Oklahoma Museum Network exhibit gives visitors a chance to learn about Oklahoma’s insects and how important they are to the local ecosystem.
The exhibit includes several activity stations, along with an enormous animatronic praying mantis and monarch butterfly. Dozens of live insects, arachnids, crustaceans and arthropods are housed at the “Is it an Insect?” station, and those who enjoy documentaries can watch Return of the Cicadas, funded by the National Science Foundation. Other activities are more interactive, such as the build-a-bug station, the DIY firefly flash pattern station and the climb-in honeycomb.
The 9-foot praying mantis operates using an infrared technology that enables it to detect the movement of people in the exhibit. It’s even able to distinguish between children and adults, and it reacts to the exhibit’s animatronic monarch, too.
“One thing I love about the exhibit is the chance to feel smaller than some of the insects we encounter day in and day out,” says Eileen Castle, director of the Oklahoma Museum Network. “Our own ‘backyard bugs’ are sometimes seen as scary or gross, and they’re really taken for granted – but bugs are absolutely essential to life as we know it. They pollinate flowers and crops, help keep the environment clean and are food for thousands of species.”
“Backyard Bugs: An Oklahoma Insect Adventure” will be open through Thanksgiving at the museum, located at 2020 Remington Place in Oklahoma City. Hours of operation are temporarily adjusted to allow for additional cleaning as the museum reopens; guests should check online for the most up-to-date hours and operational changes in the era of COVID-19. All guests must reserve tickets in advance at sciencemuseumok.org/tickets.