Since 1998, Virginia students have been required to pass a prescribed number of Standards of Learning (SOL) tests to attain verified credits required for graduation. Based on their performance, their respective schools received accreditation from the Commonwealth. Although student scores have made significant improvements over the past several years of testing, many educators in the region recognize the challenge in reaching some students in various SOL areas.
As an educational organization dedicated to serving the children, youth and their families in Central Virginia, Amazement Square has always strived to be responsive to the educational needs of its community.
In 2004, in response to feedback from local educators and as an extension of the museum’s outreach efforts, Amazement Square established a new partnership with The News & Advance, the region’s daily paper, to create an educational cartoon series for the paper’s “Newspaper in Education” program.
In 2005, after a series of meetings with area educators and the newspaper’s publisher, the museum developed and created a pilot series of The Amazing Adventures of Scorpy Bug, which debuted in September of that year. The Amazing Adventures of Scorpy Bug presents a multidisciplinary approach to the learning, covering SOL topics as diverse as Ancient Greece and Rome to vertebrates to famous Astronomers, plate tectonics, economics, weather, and safety. A timeline and Knowledge Squared, a daily activity that complements the content of the cartoon, accompany each day’s cartoon.
The topics and themes addressed in Scorpy are based upon the suggestions of Amazement Square’s Teacher Advisory Board, which is made up of local educators, ensuring that the program is in touch with the needs of teachers and students. The cartoon has also covered topics that are not specifically focused on the SOL curriculum, but are of topical interest, such as exploring the presidential election and the Beijing Olympics, and regional concern, such as John Lynch’s ferry and Ota Benga.
The positive public response to the series and the feedback received from the City’s elementary and middle schools encouraged Amazement Square to make the cartoon an ongoing activity.
In 2007, the program was awarded a prestigious grant from the Institute of Museums and Library Services, which allowed Amazement Square to expand the series into comic form, and to develop the program as a national model. The following year, Amazement Square launched the Amazing Adventures of Scorpy Bug website which houses the complete archives of the Scorpy series, as well as information for parents and teachers on ways to utilize the cartoon.
This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.