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CT Press: Snappers come to school

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Sun Jan 18 11:15:37 2004  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN (Waterbury, Connecticut) 14 January 04 Snappers come to school (Ben Conery)
Naugatuck: The 15 third-graders sat in a semi-circle on Tuesday in front of Jon McGrath as he reached slowly into a canvas bag.
As he pulled a 6-foot-long Black Rat Snake named "Max" out of the sack, several of the students at Salem Elementary School gasped and jumped back. But when "Max," a constrictor with a penchant for rats, wrapped himself around McGrath's left arm and flicked his more than 2-inch-long black tongue, not a single student missed the chance to touch his black scales.
Along with "Max," McGrath ó a teacher and naturalist from the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut ó brought more than a dozen other amphibians and reptiles to the school. The presentation is part of a grant-funded, three-part class offered free of charge to 15 schools in the state. The second class will be on birds; the third, on mammals.
On Tuesday, three third-grade classes at Salem School got a chance to see, and touch, snakes, frogs and turtles.
Teacher Lynn Piola said the presentation came as students studied reptiles and amphibians. "We've been working on it since we came back from Christmas vacation," she said.
McGrath said the students' preparation showed. During his presentation, students told him they knew snakes smell with their tongues and understood the idea of adaptation.
Bringing the animals to students greatly enhances their learning, McGrath said. "It's just going to be doing a lot more for them," he said.
Wearing glasses, with several unruly tufts of hair sticking up off the back of his head, Brian McGrath, 8, said the most interesting thing he saw was how a snapping turtle lying on its shell flips over.
"That snapping turtle used its neck to turn itself over," he said. "I thought it used its arms."
Brian also said he liked the snapping turtle's sharp beak. "I like that, it's cool," he said.
Suzanna Sanchez, 8, said she learned to be quiet around frogs because their hearing is sensitive.
When she feels like a "tomboy," Suzanna said she likes snakes; when she doesn't, she prefers wild cats. On Tuesday, she said she was somewhere in between, but she did touch every creature. "I don't like slimy stuff," she said. "I like soap."
Snappers come to school


   

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