Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Webinar – The Beetle's Special Adaptation for Survival: Elytra

Archived Webinar in Two Parts

This Zoom webinar featuring Entomologist Floyd Shockley and Museum Educator Katie Derloshon aired April 7, 2021, as one program in the Smithsonian Science How series. We've broken it into two parts on this web page.

Moderator for both parts: Maggy Benson, distance learning manager at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

  • These videos are extension activities for the museum's Animal Adaptations digital school program for Grades K-2 and the Insect Survival digital school program for Grades 3-5.

Part 1

Join Entomologist Floyd Shockley to learn about and observe elytra! Elytra are a beetle-specific adaptation that evolved from wings and are one of the key reasons for their successful diversification and survival in habitats worldwide. See real beetles from the National Museum of Natural History Museum's collection, observe beetles, and learn about how the elytra helps the animal better survive in its environment. Watch Part 1 in the video player above.

Part 2

Museum Educator Katie Derloshon demonstrates how to observe and draw two beetle species and their elytra. Sketch along with Katie as she draws a Lady Beetle and a Diving Beetle, and learn the importance of sketching in scientific research. Watch Part 2 in the video player above.

Please have the following supplies ready for the program:

  • 2 pieces of paper
  • Pencil
  • Something to color with
  • Black marker

Learning Lab Collection: Beetles and Elytra: Katie and Maggy mention this during the drawing program.

National Elementary School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards

These videos support learning about animal adaptations and are aligned with the following standards:

Life Science

  • NGSS-3-LS1-1: Understanding how science findings are based on recognizing patterns.
  • NGSS-4-LS1-1: Understanding how animals’ internal and external structures function to support survival.

About Smithsonian Science How

Connect your students to Smithsonian science experts in this weekly series of free live, interactive webinars. Hosted by Smithsonian educators, Smithsonian Science How will connect your students to authentic science, discoveries, and collections while inviting them to participate in live polls and ask and answer questions throughout. 

Thematically aligned with NMNH Digital School Programs, the webinars serve as excellent extension activities. Each webinar aligns with core content from the Animal Adaptions, Insect Survival, or Reefs Unleashed school programs, but is an independent experience. 

Related Resources

Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
K-2, 3-5
Learning Standards
Next Generation Science Standards
Life Science