Seniors Calling. Citizen Science by Entomica


John Dedes has an authentic curiosity for science. He is a Biologist, and Supervisor at The Insect Production Facility, Great Lakes Forest Research Centre, Natural Resources Canada. Working in a building more commonly referred to as ‘The Bug Lab’, is a good fit for Dedes.

20160427_163744Over and above the work he does at ‘The Bug Lab’, he has been sharing his enthusiasm for the insect world for two years as the visionary, who inspired Entomica.  Entomica is part of Destination North, housed at Mill Market in the Canal District, and is a unique community outreach opportunity for people to, literally, touch bugs.

“A couple of years ago, I opened up Entomica, an insectarium.  I applied to  CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)  to be able to take the insects out of the containment facility. This allowed Entomica to be able to bring bugs into the community.  Part of the proposal to CFIA was to be able to go into seniors homes. We wanted to do something innovative. Something where we would be reaching all ages in our community. Rather than bringing seniors down to us, at our Mill Market location, we wanted to pack our bugs up and take them to where the seniors are.” ‘Science for Seniors’ was born.

At the inaugural SSM Science Festival, ‘Science for Seniors’ was introduced. “It was a huge success last year. We went to two seniors drop-in centres and three seniors residences. This year, the same people that participated last year, are all back for the second year, with several more added onto the list.”

“We had three sponsorships come in and help with the cost of ‘Science for Seniors’.” Dedes shared that Don Mitchell sponsored The Davey Home, Dr. Jean McCauley sponsored Pathways and John’s Medicine Shoppe sponsored the visit to Extendicare Mapleview.

20160427_162324On Wednesday, Science for Seniors went to Extendicare Mapleview and The Davey Home. “Hundreds of people came down, some, who had invited their families. It was a real social event. We had 30 passionate volunteers, bringing interaction with our seniors; bringing something new. They’re meeting bugs; they’re meeting us; and we’re meeting them. There was genuine excitement happening; some who are holding insects for the very first time.” said Dedes.  ‘Science for Seniors’ had a full schedule on Thursday, April 28th as well.

John Dedes is leaving for Vancouver, BC on Wednesday May 4th , for The 2016 CASC (Canadian Association of Science Centres) Conference , titled, ‘The Intersection of Science & Nature’, May 5-7.  Entomica’s CEO  got an unexpected phone call last week; one that came as an invitation for him to attend the CASC Conference. Every year, at the CASC  Conference, a Gala and Awards ceremony is held to recognize  outstanding people, programs and exhibits in Canada’s science centres, museums, aquariums and planetariums.  The invitation that Dedes received to attend the conference came because he has been nominated as a recipient for one of the CASCADE Awards. Entomica’s  innovative science outreach programme, ‘Science for Seniors’, has been recognized  as one of the most outstanding community based programmes in the whole country. That is just tremendous! This year, the Gala will be held at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre on Saturday, May 7th.

20160427_162140The folks who came down to The Bay St. Seniors Drop-In Centre, for Science for Seniors, as part of the 2nd annual Sault Ste. Marie Science Festival, can certainly attest to the value of the programme. Getting up close and personal with insects was happening on Wed, April 27th,2016 for many seniors, guided and engaged by volunteers who really know their stuff.

Reflecting on a busy day for himself and Festival volunteers with ‘Science for Seniors’, Dedes shared, “Our payback is what we get from the community, and the reaction on everybody’s faces, from children right up to seniors citizens.  It’s a labour of love. We visited three seniors centres today, and we had some real magic moments happen. Yes, we’re a little tired tonight, but the reward is watching the interaction between the seniors, the Entomica volunteers and, of course, the insects.”

“You’re never too old to learn.” he said.

“Entomica has now been accepted into a reciprocal agreement, which means that an annual $40.00 Entomica pass, will allow the holder to get into 30 major science centres across Canada with your family for free.” Sweet.  Saultonline will update the story, when Dede’s returns from Vancouver. We’re all rooting for you!

‘With this combination of fully interactive displays and personal interaction we have created a physical and intellectual space where curiosity for insects and the biological world can be nurtured and thrive. Entomica draws upon the strengths of the surrounding communities to catalyze partnerships that promote community engagement with scientific endeavors and conservation efforts in the region. Entomica is an entity where passion, discovery, and wonder meet to create a dynamic learning environment.’

To discover Entomica, visit:!entomica/xynyt

The Canadian Association of Science Centres Conference website is here: