GREENFIELD — Cockroaches, caterpillars and a creepy, crawly tarantula named Rosie made their way into the classrooms of Hancock County students recently as part of Greenfield Central School Foundation-sponsored event.
The “Bug in a Bag” presentation, created by Purdue University entomology professor Tom Turpin, was given to all Greenfield-Central fourth-graders with the help of the Wish Upon a Star Program, which allows donors to fund class projects.
“I do about 100 of these presentations a year,” Turpin said, “and the kids always react the same way.”
And react, they did — with squeals of excitement and screams of fear. Students were given the opportunity to hold one of several insects brought by Turpin.
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“It felt weird; its little feet were sticking to my hand,” McKenzie Fleek, 10, said. “I didn’t think it would feel like that.”
Turpin, with his butterfly belt buckle and black bow-tie, said it was important to him that children understand the important role insecs have in the environment.
He added that this program was one he originally started with the Smithsonian and that he and his wife have traveled all across the country giving the presentation.
And the students went wild.
“I thought it would be scary, but it wasn’t at all,” Payton Moore, 10, said.
Standing in long lines, children waited their turn to pet the insects and at some points huddled around the creatures.
“It was awesome because it felt weird,” Taylor Traxler, 9, said. “I want a spider as a pet now, so I can hold it all the time. I feel like I should have one, and I’m going to ask my parents later.”
Maxwell Intermediate fourth-grade teacher Lisa Leliaert said she was pleased to see the students take such an interest.
“We began the year by studying insects, but it’s always great when they can have these hands-on experiences,” Leliaert said. “Tom came last year as well, and the kids just love it. They always get so excited.”
Some students even said they were inspired by the presentation.
“I wasn’t scared at all when I held it,” Emily Rigney, 10, said. “I’m going to try and catch some bugs when I get home.”