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Insect@thon: Schools, Museums and Biodiversity

Joris Komen , National Museum of Namibia, Namibia

Session: Educational Users

Museums' responsibilities need to be asserted, and, importantly, the roles of their collections and associated inventories need to be clarified to the community at large. Although the increased awareness of biodiversity preservation has highlighted the crucial role of biological collections in museums, seemingly little attention has been given to the urgency of inventory work. Essentials are simply not being computerized fast enough. Insect@thon is a new annual school contest created by the National Museum of Namibia. The purpose of the Insect@thon is to inventory national biodiversity information (this year, the insects of Namibia), and promote the Internet at schools in Namibia (less than 30% of schools in Namibia have telephones!) - an interactive, participatory event that is intended to encourage students to take advantage of the Internet as a vast, and constantly growing, source of information, with the clear understanding that the Internet, like telephony, electricity and other public services, does not come for free. The target of the Insect@thon is to inventory 70,000 hand-written insect records (comprising 11 data-fields) in two days, employing 15 school teams of 4 - 6 students each. The Insect@thon event is (entirely) sponsored by the local corporate community (no foreign donors). From their perspective, the Insect@thon event, and subsequent school involvment by way of the Internet, are viewed as a relatively small investment with considerable long-term returns from an imminently educated client-base. The results and details of the Insect@thon will be presented at ichim99.