Discovering Solutions to Keep Bugs at Bay

Dwight A. Boles teaches Principles of Biomedical Science, Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions, and Biomedical Innovation at Carroll County High School in Carrollton, Kentucky.

My students were challenged to come up with a real-world problem and then work on a way to find a solution that would help our community. Going through this process was difficult for the students, but they eventually hit upon an idea that was both relevant and timely.

At the time, our elementary schools had an outbreak of lice. The scholars in our school recognized this as a problem but also as a potential opportunity to help our younger population. Their challenge was finding a way to help that was practical and inexpensive.

The students decided to try to find a solution using inexpensive headbands treated with repellent scents.

They designed an experiment to test fragrances’ effectiveness as bug repellents, using Armadillidiidae – or woodlice – as the test subject.

Students treated three headbands with different essential oil fragrances and left one untreated. The students strategically placed the headbands, along with the woodlice, in a container with nesting material and food, giving the woodlice the chance to choose where they settled.

The students found that the treated headbands repelled the woodlice, and when they repeated their experiment, they obtained the same results.

The Carroll County scholars presented their findings to a board of officials from the health department and hospital and were praised for their innovation and problem-solving techniques. The students showed initiative, perseverance, and determination throughout the process and were shining examples of how PLTW empowers scholars to be independent thinkers and problem solvers.

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.