Bug-Loving 8-Year-Old Girl Co-Authors Scientific Study
Kids who enjoy uncommon hobbies don't always have it easy. Schoolyards can be nasty places, and if you don't quite fit in, you can find yourself on the receiving end of some unwanted ridicule. The good news? More often than not, those non-mainstream traits are the ones the world needs and will celebrate—and we tend to learn this lesson as we move through adulthood.
But Sophia Spencer didn't have to wait that long. The eight-year-old girl is passionate about bugs...and you can probably imagine how this went over with her peers. The young girl was teased for her interest in insects and penchant for carrying a bug on her shoulder. But thanks to a group of fellow bug-lovers and some truly excellent parenting, the little girl has come to realize how valuable her bug love really is.
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It all started when the girl's mom reached out to the Entomological Society of Canada for some help. "I have an eight year old daughter who loves to learn and explore the world of bugs and insects...She has asked me for over a year if this is a job she can do one day, exploring and learning more about [them]. I have told her that of course she could; however I am at a loss on how to continue to encourage her in this field of science," the mother wrote.
The society tweeted out the mother's plea along with the hashtag #BugsR4Girls—and the response was amazing. Fellow enthusiasts responded immediately with offers to chat with the young girl, send her scientific materials, and sign copies of their books for her.
But nothing could top what came from this email: Sophia teamed up with scientist Morgan D. Jackson to co-author a scientific paper in the society's journal, Annals of The Entomological Society of America. That's right: At just eight years old, this little scientist has already earned a byline in a major publication. Amazing!
The topic of the study? The effect social media may have on the entomological world and the promotion of women in science, based on the tweet that set the whole thing in motion.
Sophia weighed in with her thoughts on how a single tweet affected her life. "After my mom sent the message and showed me all the responses, I was happy. I felt like I was famous. Because I was! It felt good to have so many people support me, and it was cool to see other girls and grown-ups studying bugs. It made me feel like I could do it too, and I definitely, definitely, definitely want to study bugs when I grow up, probably grasshoppers," the little girl wrote in her section of the paper. "If somebody said bugs weren't for girls, I would be really mad at them, but I wouldn't do anything, I would just not talk to them. I think anything can be for anybody, including bugs. Plus, not a lot of kids at school like bugs, but they think they're a little cool. I told my best friend and her sister about bugs, and now they think they're cool, and her sister will pick up any bug! I think other girls who saw my story would like to study bugs too."