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Think back to when you were eight years old. You may have been watching Disney movies, playing outside, or goofing-off during class. Our elementary school years were fun because we had no responsibilities, and people did not expect much from us at that age. However, one girl, Sophia Spencer, is different. Although Sophia could be playing with toys or watching TV, she spends her time learning as much as she can about the nature of insects. In fact, Sophia has recently co-authored an academic paper about how to use social media as a means for making scientific knowledge more accessible to the public. Sophia’s academic paper was published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America earlier this month.

Sadly, Sophia was being bullied at school around a year ago for her deep interest in insects. Sophia’s mother was concerned that this bullying would cause Sophia to abandon her scientific interest in insects. In an effort to prevent Sophia from ignoring her scientific passions, Sophia’s mother sent a letter to the Entomological Society of Canada. The mother was hoping that entomologists would respond to the letter by reaching out to Sophia with words of encouragement so that she could feel free to further explore her interest in bugs. Once an entomologist working with the society, Morgan Jackson, received the letter he posted a message on twitter asking people to support Sophia and her interest in entomology. He also said to never give up her interests, even if she is bullied over her talents. Instead, Sophia needs to let her talent shine. The twitter message received an astounding amount of supportive comments.

As a result of these good-natured responses, Jackson decided to write a paper about how social media could be used to encourage scientific inquiry. Jackson asked for Sophia to help him write the paper, so she became the paper’s co-author. Sophia contributed to the paper by describing her first encounters with insects, and which insects prompted her enthusiasm for entomology. She also describes how young girls are often dissuaded from curiously examining bugs, and this negative influence prevents many females from becoming scientists later on. If Sophia wants a career in entomology, then she is off to a good start.

Do you think that it is more socially acceptable for boys than for girls to curiously handle and examine bugs and other “creepy-crawlies?”

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