Connections home schoolers experience creepy crawlies

Posted: Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Home schoolers registered with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's Connections program, were recently introduced to live arthropods, reptiles and insects, otherwise known as the "Creepy Crawly presentation" from the Imaginarium in Anchorage.

"Our live creatures included a rose haired tarantula, emperor scorpion, a Madagascar hissing cockroach, and a giant walking stick bug, in addition to our boa constrictor and alligator," said Ramon Wallace, education specialist with the Imaginarium.

According to Wallace, kids reactions to what is creepy vary between the different species, "Everyone has fears of different things. You'll find people who are very willing to hold the alligator and snakes, who don't want to even look at a little bitty cockroach. It all depends on the individual," commented Wallace while checking on the alligator that was enjoying the bathtub at Soldotna City Manager Tom Boedeker's house. Wallace says he has chased snakes and insects around all his life, being a native of Florida, and has always had a job working with live animals.


Ramon Wallace, Education Specialist for the Imaginarium in Anchorage, shows students a young boa constrictor.

The Imaginarium is a hands-on science center that creates classes through their outreach program to take throughout the state, "Just telling kids about snakes and turtles and how they're different has no comparison to giving them the chance to actually touch the animals and watch them move and see how they interact with their environment. A lot of Alaskan kids didn't have the chance I did growing up. They don't get to touch snakes on a regular basis so when we line them up and they get to pet the snakes for the first time, it's just amazing to see the looks on their faces and how fast they absorb the information and come up with terrific questions," added Wallace.

Gabe Swiderski is an outreach presenter with the Imaginarium and accompanied Wallace with the reptiles and arthropods, "It's awesome to see things click in the kids minds and to see things in a more real way for them to understand what is going on in the world around them," said Swiderski, alligator now out of the Boedeker tub and secure in his hand. The duo says they plan on returning to the area or anywhere else they are asked to present programs. For more information contact the Connections department at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District at 262-6315.

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