For more than two decades students have gone buggy over an entomology class at Oregon State University. Now Playboy magazine has also taken notice.
OSU professor emeritus Michael Burgett is the instructor behind "Far Side Entomology," in which students study the roles that insects play in humans' existence. OregonLive.com reported Burgett uses insect cartoons from Gary Larson's "Far Side" collection to keep students interested and prod their creativity.
Playboy named it the best course as the magazine listed its honorable mentions to its best party school list released this week. The Gazette Times said Playboy picked the class because of its innovative and effective way of teaching science and communication.
The Gazette Times said Burgett divides students into 10 teams and gives them random insect-themed cartoons. They have a week to interpret the drawing before giving a presentation.
"It's a fun way to get entomological principles across to really bright kids," Burgett said to OregonLive.com. "These cartoons speak to science and society in the language of humor that everyone understands."
OregonLive.com said he once gave two students a Larson cartoon in which two insects looked across the street and saw their firefly neighbors mooning them. They came back with a PowerPoint presentation explaining fireflies and bioluminescence, which is how they produce and make light.
They also explained mooning by drawing a man in sweat pants as he waves, bends over, and pulls down his pants.
"They had giant flashes of light where his bum was," Burgett said.
The class is only open to 20 students at a time and they must be enrolled in the University Honors College.
It has also received kudos from National Public Radio and the Chronicle of Higher Education.