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STUDENTS CONNECT TO ENVIRONMENT THROUGH HANDS-ON DEMOS

October 7, 2016

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Smith Middle School seventh-grade students (L-R) Brayde Villarreal, Kenna Turner and Naomi Nutwell touch the bearded dragon displayed by volunteer Elsa Lalmansingh during a biomes demo at Smith on Sept. 29.

Oct. 7, 2016—Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) at Smith Middle School utilized their training from the Charlotte Burns Science Resource Center (SRC) to present a “Biomes Demo” with live animals to seventh-grade Smith students on Sept. 29.

While a presenter taught the students about the various biomes around the world, volunteers brought plants and animals representing some of the biomes around the room for students to observe.

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Smith seventh-grade students Chinonye Mgboji, left, and Jordan Meyer observe a corn snake during a biomes demo at the school on Sept. 29.

The animals included a corn snake, bearded dragon, giant millipede, night crawlers and a dwarf arctic mouse.

“Some of our students have never traveled to a destination where they may actually see some of these plants and animals from around the world, let alone get to actually touch them,” said Adam Schmidtendorff, Smith sixth- eighth-grade science campus content instructional specialist (CCIS). “Things become more real for people when they actually experience them firsthand and make connections versus seeing it in a book. Our goal for students is that science is more than just chemicals in a lab. It is living, breathing things; it’s the world around them.”

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Birkes Elementary School paraeducator Lesley Emmons shows a dwarf arctic mouse to Smith Middle School students (L-R) Zion Adams, Mary Huinker and Allison Millan on Sept. 29.

Throughout the year, Schmidtendorff plans to bring science presenters to speak on a variety of topics including the ecoregions of Texas, as well as scientists and engineers who will show the great opportunities that lie ahead.

A guest speaker from the Texas Wildlife Association will present “Skins and Skulls Animal Adaptations” to Smith students Nov. 29-30, giving them a chance to handle animal pelts, skulls and models as they learn about how animals have adapted to live in Texas.

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Volunteer Elsa Lalmansingh shows night crawlers to Smith Middle School students during a biomes demo at the school on Sept. 29. 

“One day our students will become the caretakers of this planet and our communities,” Schmidtendorff said. “To do that, they must make connections to the environment. The strongest connections are made by physically interacting with and experiencing it.”

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