NPR新闻:A Girl's Love For Bugs Goes Viral


Nicole Spencer sent a letter to the Entomological Society of Canada a year ago.


NICOLE SPENCER: (Reading) Hello. I have a 7-year-old daughter who loves to learn and explore the world of bugs and insects. She's often teased at school by peers because she will proudly display her current bug friend on her shoulder.

SHAPIRO: Spencer went on to ask for advice on how to encourage her daughter's passion for insects and turn it into a career someday. She wanted Sophia to know that it's not weird or gross to love bugs.


Scientist Morgan Jackson runs social media for the Entomological Society. And when he saw the letter, he posted it on Twitter and it went viral. That's when the hashtag #BugsR4Girls was created. A year later, he and Sophia have published a paper together in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. It's called "Engaging For A Good Cause: Why #BugsR4Girls." Sophia and Morgan are with us from Ontario. Welcome and congratulations, guys.

SOPHIA: Hello, and thank you for having me on your radio show.

MORGAN JACKSON: Thanks so much for having us. We're excited to talk to you.

CHANG: We're excited to talk to you guys. So, Sophia, what is it like to be a published scientist?

SOPHIA: It's really cool. I mean, it's interesting because before everybody was writing these letters to me. I really thought loving bugs wasn't the best hobby. But after I realized bugs are for girls I thought to myself, well, I think I should start loving bugs again because just 'cause people say they're weird and gross doesn't mean I shouldn't like them.

CHANG: So, Morgan, when you got this letter from Sophia's mom, why did you decide to post it on Twitter?

JACKSON: We were hoping that we could find an entomologist or two perhaps that would be willing to talk to Sophia and share, you know, a little bit about their backstory and help encourage her. So when we posted it to Twitter, we were blown away with the number of people who came charging to help Sophia out.

CHANG: What did you learn watching this letter go viral about science communication, the communication of entomology?

JACKSON: I learned that a lot of my colleagues are really compassionate people. But I also learned that a lot of people maybe can see themselves in Sophia a little bit and are taking this chance to be compassionate and kind of reach into their own past and provide a little bit of the compassion and help that they wish maybe they had. And so the whole thing was just terrific.

CHANG: Sophia, what are you hearing from kids at school since your big paper came out? I bet you're hearing really good things.

SOPHIA: Yeah. I'm hearing really good things. Like, kids now, after I told them the whole story, they're like, oh, well, could you teach me more about bugs? And I make sure - so I show them techniques to help bugs. Like, a lot of my classmates like catching moths and butterflies like that. So whenever they do that - so I showed them an easier way 'cause a lot of kids flatten out their hands, which kind of crushes them. So I told them that...

CHANG: Oh, yeah.

SOPHIA: ...You should cup your hands so it doesn't kill them. And a lot of the kids stopped bullying me about it. But I feel really good.

CHANG: Well, that's good. OK, I'm going to ask you guys real quick - what is your favorite insect? Sophia?

SOPHIA: My favorite insect is a grasshopper. Grasshoppers are just amazing as you get to know them. Like, I used to have a pet. Like, if you flip them upside down you can tell if they're girls or boys 'cause boys have a pointy stomach and girls have a flat stomach.

CHANG: That's so cool. I never knew that.

SOPHIA: Yeah. And they stridulate.

CHANG: They what?

SOPHIA: Stridulating is rub their feet - when they rub their feet together.

CHANG: Oh, OK. I think I've seen that. What about you, Morgan? What's your favorite insect?

JACKSON: Flies are my favorite insect.

CHANG: Flies? I would have never guessed flies.

JACKSON: Yep, flies.

CHANG: Nobody appreciates flies. That's cool that you do (laughter).

JACKSON: Yeah, they're totally underappreciated, but they're wildly diverse and endlessly fascinating.

CHANG: So, Sophia, what are your dreams for the future? What do you see yourself growing up to become?

SOPHIA: I see myself growing up to become a entomologist. It's going to take a lot of hard work, but the more hard work you do, the better the thing you're working for is.

CHANG: Sophia Spencer is a budding entomologist and Morgan Jackson is a Ph.D. candidate in insect systematics. Thank you both so much for talking with us.

JACKSON: Thank you.

SOPHIA: Thank you for talking with us.




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