K-12 educational tarantula presentation

MrsHaas

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Nov 1, 2012
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I need help... (yes I'm off my rocker, but this time it's factual help I am asking for lol):

I am putting together a small (10-15 min) presentation for elementary/middle/high schools on tarantulas and I have several things that I am choosing to address ( if I were to speak freely and not have a specific outline I think I could blabber on for days! Lol)...

As I said this will be a presentation for students (possibly ranging grades K-12). There are certain topics that I am having a hard time putting into lamest terms. So I am just reaching out and hoping that maybe somebody can help me explain certain things in a way so a stranger to the hobby will understand.

Here are a few of the questions I'm having trouble dumbing down:

Tarantulas versus true spiders (what's the difference - factors that make Ts not true spiders)

Maturation (male vs female) and longevity

NW vs OW in terms of
Habitat and Behavior in the wild

(This is all PowerPoint)
Then I will introduce one or two species of tarantulas from each contenant one by one by providing facts about each specific T I've chosen to highlight and how they are diff/same:
Examples being -
species origin?
Demeanor?
Growth rate?
Habitat and behavior in the wild
(Help me think of more?)

Also I'm looking for a decent frame-by-frame molting sequence I can play on a projector (if I can find one someone will let me use - I don't have any personally - that would be amazingly helpful!)

And I'm looking for a good general anatomy chart. And a different diagram showing the differences between mature males and mature females.

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Also, I'm thinking of doing a live feeding. Or would it be smarter to do a visual (PowerPoint) montage of different tarantulas eating?
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Then there will be a short question and answer period, should students have other questions they did not get the answers to earlier.

As the students leave, I want to pass out some kind of handout. The smaller kids will get a blank picture of a tarantula and that they get to color. The older kids will get a short pamphlet with some of the information we covered during the slideshow.

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And that is that. The above questions I asked for help with are not the only things that I will be covering. They are just the things I'm having a hard time answering in a way that is more rudimentary.

So I need ppls honest opinion… I know this is just a few of the bare bones (outline) and that these are just the topics I want to cover - I have several other things I will be addressing but don't currently need help with the wording) but I need help phrasing it so it's easy to understand.

Think "tarantulas for dummies"… I'm pretty sure 99% of the audience (and that may be a generous estimate lol) Will have any idea about tarantulas at all so I want to answer all the questions that I can without totally going off on a nerd tangent like we hobbyists like to do.

I'll take any suggestions that any of you have... THANKS TO ALL!
 

nicodimus22

Arachnomancer
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I think doing a live feeding is likely to bring complaints (specifically from parents.) Might want to just list the types of things they eat in the wild and leave it at that. Kids who are interested will go on youtube and see it anyway.
 

MrsHaas

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861
I think doing a live feeding is likely to bring complaints (specifically from parents.) Might want to just list the types of things they eat in the wild and leave it at that. Kids who are interested will go on youtube and see it anyway.
I have been told by certain teachers they want me to bring in a few Ts so the kids can see diff Ts (besides rose hairs) - hands off of course. And that a live feeding would be fun. Maybe the kids can have a permission slip their parents have to sign or something to view the live Ts/feeding. But I see how that could be either really awesome or problematic...
 

Ungoliant

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Tarantulas versus true spiders (what's the difference - factors that make Ts not true spiders)
I just posted a description a few days ago. It shouldn't need any dumbing down for older students. For young students, it's probably easiest to focus on the way the jaws move.


Maturation (male vs female) and longevity
For younger students: their skeleton is on the outside, and instead of growing slowly and continuously (like a human's skeleton), the exoskeleton needs to be replaced with a bigger one every now and then so it has more room to grow on the inside. (This is grossly oversimplified, as maturation also involves the actual anatomy, but it will suffice for a young student.)

Males tend to mature more quickly, and once they are fully grown, their sole job is to find a female to mate, so they don't live that long as adults. Females live a long time, which allows them to produce many egg sacs. The fact that they continue molting as adults may contribute to their longer lifespan.


NW vs OW in terms of
Habitat and Behavior in the wild
I don't think you can generalize habitat of NW vs. OW, as there are lots of different biomes throughout the world where tarantulas can be found.

But in general, most NW tarantulas have special hairs they can use to defend themselves, and as a result, they don't have to rely on biting and running as much. OW tarantulas lack these hairs, and they tend to be much faster and much more likely to bite in defense. And when they do bite, OW venom is stronger.


And I'm looking for a good general anatomy chart.
The basic anatomical structures of tarantulas are not all that different from true spiders, so you can use almost any good chart as a basic reference. (You may need to simplify the language or remove some details for very young students.)

external anatomy:
internal anatomy:

And a different diagram showing the differences between mature males and mature females.
I haven't seen any male vs. female diagrams, so you may want to make your own by taking pictures and pointing out the differences.
 

cold blood

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Here are a few of the questions I'm having trouble dumbing down:
1-Tarantulas versus true spiders (what's the difference - factors that make Ts not true spiders)

2-Maturation (male vs female) and longevity

3-NW vs OW in terms of
Habitat and Behavior in the wild
--------
Also, I'm thinking of doing a live feeding. Or would it be smarter to do a visual (PowerPoint) montage of different tarantulas eating?
1. Tarantula fangs move up and down, while a true spider's fangs work in a pinching motion.

2. Females live about 3-4 times as long as males.

3. Its geographical, NW are from the Americas, known to them in their history classes as, "the new world", while everywhere else is OW. The urticating hairs vs. no urticating hairs is an obvious point.

A live feeding is just not predictable enough, especially with a t that's being moved around from your room, to the school and with activity and noises, you never know when its gonna eat or refuse....or just take too long to eat for a concise demonstration.

A video or a few would guarantee that they will see exactly what you want them to see. 10 concise video clips would take less time than 1 unpredictable live feeding, even if everything went perfect and quick.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.
 

Ungoliant

Malleus Aranearum
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A video or a few would guarantee that they will see exactly what you want them to see. 10 concise video clips would take less time than 1 unpredictable live feeding, even if everything went perfect and quick.
Plus you could show how different types of tarantulas hunt.
 
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