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KENAI: Spiders, Owls, and Bats, in the Classroom
Alaska Region, November 29, 2012
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Ranger Laura teaching students about bats.
Ranger Laura teaching students about bats. - Photo Credit: Kenai NWR staff
During owl programs Ranger Michelle utilized mounts (these are a Great Horned Owl and a Northern Hawk Owl).  Several teachers did Barn Owl pellet dissections with their class prior or post presentation.
During owl programs Ranger Michelle utilized mounts (these are a Great Horned Owl and a Northern Hawk Owl). Several teachers did Barn Owl pellet dissections with their class prior or post presentation. - Photo Credit: Kenai NWR staff

Arachnophobia? Oclophobia? Chiroptophobia? In order to dispel common fears, 1,770 students participated in spider, owl, or bat programs put on by the Kenai Refuge. Over the course of three weeks, Kenai Refuge Education Specialist Michelle Ostrowski and volunteer Laura Woodward spent 64 contact hours and provided 95 programs to local area children (pre-school to sixth grade). Fall, especially around Halloween, was a perfect time to be discussing these critters and getting students to realize that they are AMAZING and not something to be fearful of. During the pre-K & Kindergarten spider programs, kids received a spider ring to help them learn the body parts of a spider and they acted out different types of spider behaviors from fishing spiders to triangular spiders. For the owl programs (for first, third, and fifth graders) one lucky student was dressed up as a great-horned owl to learn the parts of an owl's body. Contrary to popular belief, owls can not turn their heads 360 degrees. Because they have twice as many bones in their neck as a human (forteen to our seven) and because their eyes can not move due to a sclerotic ring (bony plate)locking them into place, they do have a 270 degree head-turning ability. Utilizing a few owl mounts and pictures students also learned about the nine owls that can be found on the Kenai Peninsula. In the bat programs (for second, fourth, and sixth graders) the Little Brown Bat was focussed on because it is the moth and mosquito eating bat seen on the Kenai Peninsula. Again, a student was dressed up as a bat and classes participated in an echolocation game. Because the three of these critters move in unique ways, are mostly silent, often come out at night and are rarely seen they are often feared for various reasons. Hopefully these entertaining and interactive programs help rid students and teachers of these common phobias...at least a little. For curriculum content, contact michelle_ostrowski@fws.gov


Contact Info: Michelle Ostrowski, 907-260-2839, michelle_ostrowski@fws.gov



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