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East Elementary students get lesson in herpetology

Snakes Alive presenter Ron Cromer looks on as first graders pet Rosa, a 13-foot python. Staff members holding Rosa, from left, are Erin Hare, Jody Monkus, Steve Williams, Principal Cheryl Lawrence, Kaitlin Horne, Amy Jackson and Michael Crowder.

East Elementary School students started the New Year off with a… slither!

A specialist in herpetology, Ron Cromer, presented a science program to students Jan. 14, 2014, one grade level at a time.

The program was designed to teach about the habits and characteristics of reptiles, especially snakes, one of nature’s most misunderstood creatures. Cromer began with an orientation lecture and slide presentation featuring many species of reptiles including turtles, lizards and snakes.

Students heard the myths versus facts about snakes. One myth some people believe is that snakes are slimy, but they are not. Cromer brought with him a variety of tamed snakes and a few lizards for petting, including a giant pet python from Southeast Asia.

All students had an opportunity to touch, hold or pet a snake if they wished. Some were surprised to learn that the snakes felt leathery and scaly, not slimy.

First grader Nancy Morales-Godinez was proud of herself for touching the huge python.

Fifth grader, Valeria Flores, said, “I really liked the presentation. I got to help hold the giant snake!”

The python named Rosa was about 13 feet long and it took a whole group of people to hold her. East Elementary School Principal Cheryl Lawrence was one of those people.

Lawrence grinned while having her picture taken holding different snakes. “I have never touched a snake before in my life!” Lawrence exclaimed.

The students also learned that most snakes are not harmful and how to safely deal with a snake if they came across one in the wild. The program encouraged an appreciation for nature.

Cromer said that snakes need to be protected, not killed, as they play an important part in the ecosystem. Students also learned how to identify some dangerous poisonous snakes that live in the southeastern United States, such as coral snakes and copperheads.

The program supported the STEM philosophy of the school, providing a hands-on learning experience in science.

Dr. Grace Faris, interim assistant principal, was instrumental in bringing Cromer to the school.

“I have seen Mr. Cromer present previously and I knew he would do an outstanding job,” Faris said. “I wanted the students at East Elementary to have the same experience.”

More information about Ron Cromer and his program is available at the Snakes Alive website, www.snakesalive.com.

Written by: Lisa Moniz, East Elementaruy Media Specialist
Posted: Jan 28, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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