“We seem to have lost a fang.” File that under things you probably don’t want to hear in a workshop about spiders.
Luckily, the aforementioned missing fang was made of foam, and was used to help a group of local 8- and 9-year-olds learn about the anatomy of a spider. The students, who are part of the Gardner Pilot Academy’s after-school program, were at the Harvard Ed Portal in Allston for a workshop titled “Spider Superheroes.”
The program was created by Sarah J. Kariko, research director of Gossamer Labs LLC and an associate in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and it was adapted in collaboration with the Harvard Museum of Natural History. It was funded in part by a grant from Creativity Garden, a nationwide project of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, which is supported by the Walt Disney Co.
“Spider Superheroes” teaches students all about spiders, and some of the remarkable things they can do. For instance, the students learned that some spiders can jump long distances, dance, live underwater, balloon through the air, change colors, and sometimes even be mistaken for jewels.
Though many people fear spiders, the truth is that they’re far more helpful than harmful.
Students learned how spiders help to keep insect populations in check, learned about their extraordinary sense of touch, and learned how some spiders spin strong, intricate, complex webs that they use to catch their prey — webs they never seem to get stuck in themselves.
The class began with students discussing what words they’d use to describe spiders: hairy, pretty, stinky, bold, gross, big-footed, cool.
Their task was to travel around the world in their imaginations and meet some spider superheroes along the way. Then they were to come back to the Ed Portal and design their own superhero who could help them solve a real problem — or a challenge — of their own choosing.