YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollectionsBrawley

Dispelling myths about cold-blooded creatures

October 23, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — The small alligator coolly surveyed the room. She's seen this all before: Scores of children squealing with delight and fear at the sight of her tough skin and scales, her long snout and the sharp teeth it contains.

Phoenix, the 2- to 3-foot American alligator, travels to schools across the country every day, her physical presence an effective tool in educating youngsters about reptiles.

Monday, the kids at J.W. Oakley School in Brawley were the lucky audience members at several "Reptiles are Cool" presentations by Michigan-based Mobile Ed Productions Inc.

Dick Buchholz, an independent contractor with Mobile Ed, brought examples of all four different types of reptiles: crocodilians, lizards, snakes and turtles.


It's one thing to read about a snake's flexibility and another to see it tied into a loose knot right in front of you.

Buchholz gave kids lessons in anatomy, behavior and environmental responsibility pertaining to creepy crawly critters like the monkey lizard whose tail curled around his arm as he carried it across the room for students to see.

The most popular creature Buchholz showed was the 13-foot snake, Abigail, which every kid was allowed to touch as the program ended.

Abigail was by far 8-year-old Carlos Castro's favorite reptile Monday.

"It's really big," Carlos said.

Despite her intimidating length, Carlos said he wasn't scared of touching her.

"She was soft," he said.

Despite Buchholz's lesson, some preconceived notions remained.

Brian Santos, 8, was shaking his hand and making a face as he walked away from Abigail.

"It felt slimy," Brian said, mistaking the snake's smooth scales for something more disgusting.

In the end, students walked away entertained and better educated about these often misunderstood reptiles, while Buchholz, Abigail, Phoenix and the rest of the gang prepared for another day of work at Brawley's Phil Swing Elementary School today.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles