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Bowling Green Daily News


Snakes, turtles Science Day hit at Potter-Gray


By Courtney Craig, ccraig@bgdailynews.com -- 270-783-3243

Friday, April 09, 2004

Standing in front of 100 elementary school pupils with a 9-foot boa constrictor around his neck, Brad Reynolds feels completely at home.
“Now, this snake eats mostly large rats,” Reynolds explained to Potter-Gray Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders, whose gasps turned to giggles as the huge snake tried to wrap its body around Reynolds’ head.
“It feels uncomfortable because it has nothing to wrap around,” Reynolds explained.
Reynolds was on hand for Potter-Gray’s Science Day, during which several presenters visited the school to teach the pupils about various aspects of science. His presentation, “Cold-Blooded Killers,” was the final one of the day.
According to science teacher Nita Cole, who organized Science Day, several 20-minute presentations were given in the morning, and students rotated through them. Topics included physical therapy, geology, fire science, first aid, animals such as tiger cubs and alligators and more.
Reynolds had several more reptiles to show the children, including a salamander, hard- and soft-shelled turtles, an iguana and an alligator snapping turtle. He had many different kinds of snakes, including a 6-foot black rat snake, a black king snake, a corn snake and a milk snake.
Each creature was brought out and put under an overhead projector that displayed the image on a large screen, so the audience could see small parts of the animals’ bodies.
“If I run my finger over this area (near the snake’s tail), I can feel a small bone,” Reynolds said, showing the area to his young audience. The bone is a remnant of a vestigial leg, which snakes evolved out of long ago.
When Reynolds brought out the black king snake, one pupil asked if she could touch it.
“That’s a good idea,” he replied, and students clamored to touch the snake. Some were fascinated by rubbing the smooth scales, while others gave it a quick touch and turned away quickly in disgust.
Reynolds, who lives in Owensboro, is no stranger to elementary school presentations. He owns his own business called Real Science, in which he makes similar presentations at elementary schools around the area.
“I thought it was good,” Sarah Donnelly, 11, said of the presentation. “The most interesting part was probably watching the snakes eat the rats,” referring to video footage Reynolds showed.
Sarah added she wasn’t scared of the snakes and liked learning more about them.
Adrienne Tarrence, 10, said she liked the snapping turtle the best.
“He was really cool,” she said.
Adrienne said she learned how to tell a venomous snake from a nonvenomous one – they are likely brightly colored and striped. When she walked in the gym and saw the snakes in their clear boxes, she said she wasn’t scared, but intrigued.
“I just couldn’t wait to see what he’d do with them,” Adrienne said.
Reynolds, a former college biology teacher, said he chose to start giving presentations at schools because he loves kids.
“I love interacting with kids, and I love what I’m teaching,” he said.
Reynolds sends e-mails and letters to principals around the area, and caught Potter-Gray just in time for Science Day.
“It worked out really well,” he said. “I had a wonderful time – I always have a wonderful time at this.”
Science Day is held every other year, and this is the third time Potter-Gray has had the event. Cole thought the day was a success.
“Being a science teacher, this is a fantastic day,” Cole said. “The only sad part is that not everyone gets to do everything. But the kids get a big kick out of it.”
Cole said she was never worried that Reynolds’ presentation would scare the children.
“It’s the best way to overcome your fears,” she laughed.
— Reynolds will give a presentation about human anatomy called “Inside Your Body” at Warren East Middle School next week.