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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) -Science comes to life for students at one Tupelo elementary school. It’s all part of an exhibit that allows youngsters and teachers to get up close with wildlife and learn all about the ecosystem.

Wherever Bob Tarter goes, he has a captive audience.

Tarter is with the Tennessee based Natural History Educational Company of the Midsouth. He travels throughout an eight-state region with his presentation called “Predators to Prey”

“We’re covering the whole ecosystem spectrum discussing producers like the plants , and then the herbivores that are eating them and the carnivores that are eating herbivores and relationship they share,” Tarter explained of his show.

The 470 students at Thomas Street School have been studying all about animals the past few weeks. This presentation brings the lessons to life for the grade schoolers and the teachers.

“The water they swim in is infested with piranhas. These guys swim with the peacock bass, that’s a bass big enough to swallow a two foot lizard like this like it’s nothing,” Tarter said, showing off his creatures.

Using two corn snakes, Tarter gives a quick lesson in how to tell whether a snake is poisonous.

“The only way you can tell is to look at the pupil. If the pupil is circle, round like ours, you’re looking at a non-venomous snake. If you look at a snake, and its pupil is oval, you’re looking at a venomous snake.”

This real life lesson elicits a wide range of responses from students and teachers.

“We expect excitement, certainly hope to see that and it helps motivate kids to learn more about these animals and gets them further involved in the reading, then it’s a win-win situation,” noted Thomas Street Principal Chad Chism.

These second-graders all had a favorite animal and also learned some new facts about carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.

“My favorite part was the bobcat,” said Sadie Richberg, a second-grader.

“The bobcat.”


“Cause they’re cute and they look like a little kitten sometimes.”

“The owl, I know some owls do not hurt people, some owls help people,” said second-grader Nathan Esthete.

This was the second year in a row for the live animal exhibit at Thomas Street School. With the enthusiastic response, organizers say a return engagement next year is likely.

The presentation was funded by a grant from the Association for Excellence in Education.

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