But Fun: P.S. 87 Kids Are Bugging Out at the Insect Safari
A cockroach is the fastest thing on six legs, traveling up to
five feet per second!
A housefly can only eat liquid food, so it throws up a substance
that dissolves solid foods.
Termites defend their nest by exploding and spraying their enemy
with sticky guts.
If you haven’t jumped three feet high into the air yet — all grossed
out, shaking your hands uncontrollably, and screaming “Eeek!!!”
at the top of your lungs — ask yourself these questions: Did you
know these things? And do you care?
Thing is, if you were seven years old, you probably would.
And that is why The Smithsonian O. Orkin Insect Safari — a collaborative
endeavor between the Smithsonian Museum and the Orkin Exterminating
Company — has been such a wonderful success at both educating
and entertaining throughout its two years of existence. Crawling
across America, the massive movable exhibit stopped at P.S. 87
in the North Bronx in the middle of a nationwide 40-city tour.
And, excuse us for saying so, the kids were buzzing with excitement.
What second-grader wouldn’t be when a 16-feet high, 35-foot wide
praying mantis is parked in front of his school on the top of
a funky-looking huge truck? That certainly beats the wings off
of some boring biology class, doesn’t it?
is a great thing,” teacher Rose Krapin said. “Just look at these
kids — they’re going crazy. And the interactive nature of the
exhibit — the lecture, the short film, the cartoons, the enormous
pictures exhibited on the truck-walls — really keeps them involved.
They’re actually learning without even realizing it.”
The idea for the Insect Safari came from the O. Orkin Insect Zoo
at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. With more than 10
million annual visitors, it’s the most visited museum in the world,
with two million visiting
the Insect Zoo.
And most of them are kids who, obviously, don’t mind hanging around
their creepy-crawly friends.
contraire, almost every kid in Ms. Krapin’s class was anxious
to share a personal story or six about a pet tarantula or a particularly
favored cockroach, driving the day’s lecturer into playful distraction.
“You guys are making me old,” he complained. But the young ones
They were too involved with crawling through the four huge rooms
inside the truck — actually, the requested mode of transportation
— learning about different aspects of bug life in each. “They
really have been around longer than the dinosaurs?” asked one
pint-sized ant-aficionado, wide-eyed to learn that his six-legged
buds have been around for over 400 million years. In the next
room, the students learned about insects as part of the eco-system,
how they are an important link in the food chain, how bees make
their own food. In the last room, why it’s not a good idea to
have bug-friends visiting your house by leaving around garbage
A real housefly, on the wall of the truck, was a particularly
was real learning going on here,” Assistant Principal Ken Schneider
said. “I was very impressed with the level of participation by
the children. This was a novelty for them, and a new thing — especially
when it’s this well-conceived — is usually a very good thing.”
Mr. Schneider, who spearheads an unusually high level of science
education at P.S. 87 — not many public elementary schools have
their own well-equipped lab and a science-teaching specialist
– read about the Insect Safari in the Smithsonian Magazine and
was immediately inspired to write a letter inviting them to the
As the 22 second-graders in unison said: “Thank you Mr. Schneider!!!”#
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.