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Loyola biology students use hissing cockroaches, scorpions to teach

November 30, 2012

Giant swallowtail caterpillars avoid getting eaten because they look like bird poop sitting on a leaf. That’s just one of the fun facts a team of 15 Loyola University New Orleans biology students shared with children at Holy Ghost Elementary School Nov. 15 and 29. The Loyola students brought the caterpillars along with animals ranging from scorpions and tarantulas to Madagascar hissing cockroaches and millipedes as real-life teaching aids for the elementary students.

While the children learned about interesting critters and how to properly handle them, the larger lesson was why animals are important to a healthy ecosystem—and their everyday lives, according to event organizer Loyola biology visiting assistant professor Aimée K. Thomas, Ph.D. Both teaching days aimed to engage the kindergarten through eighth grade students in science at an early age.

More than just teaching lessons to elementary school children, the day was also an opportunity to reinforce the knowledge the Loyola students garnered in class. “In order to teach it, you have to understand it,” Thomas said.

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