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March 27th 2019

Mini-Beast Exploration

Years 7 and 8 shared their Science lab with some unusual new classmates this week, as Cobham Hall was invaded by an array of creepy-crawlies, lizards and tortoises.

The creatures were part of Andrew Smith’s Mini-Beast Workshops: interactive lessons discussing and demonstrating structural differences, and how animals adapt to different habitats.  Head of Science Mr Jonathan Fryer explained why he organised the workshops, “Seeing the animals in the flesh makes the subject all the more real. The students also gain a greater respect for the animals – a very important aspect of their experience.”

Amongst the animals being discussed were a grass snake, a blue-tongued skink, a frilled-neck lizard, a  tortoise, a terrapin, a cockroach and a tarantula.  The girls were able to stroke some of the animals, with many incredulous that they were brave enough to touch a tarantula or be near a snake.  For Nabeelah, Year 7, the experience was eye-opening. “To my surprise,” she said afterwards, “I really liked the snake and spider. I thought they were going to be scary but they weren’t.”

The girls heard about the animals’ adaptations and how they provide benefit, such as the tortoise shell providing protection against hooved animals in grasslands, and their clawed front feet allowing them to dig into the ground to shelter from the heat of the mid-day sun.  They also saw a gecko with a tail that looks like a head – an adaptation that confuses predators.

Evolution was also discussed, and how it is gradual change that allows survival when conditions change.  For example, clams are designed well for the sea, but coming on to land required a different design – cue the snail shell to give protection from dehydration.

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