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El Morro students turn their attention to reptiles

Michelle Price told first- and second-grade students at El Morro Elementary School on Friday that they don't have to like all reptiles.

Take snakes as an example.

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"People either really like them or they really don't," said Price, owner and operator of Science On The Go, Inc., a company focused on educational presentations to schools throughout Orange County. "It's OK. You don't have to like everything on the planet, but you have to understand the role it plays.

"Snakes eat rats, mice and rodents, which carry disease."

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Snakes were but one of the reptiles she spoke about during a presentation inside the Laguna Beach campus' multipurpose room.

Students sat in rows on the floor as they listened to Price, who discussed behaviors and characteristics of several reptiles, including tortoises, turtles, alligators, crocodiles and lizards. She used visual aids both living and non-living.

A California kingsnake sat on bark chips inside a clear container, bobbing its head as Price spoke.

She walked back and forth on the stage, grabbing an enlarged photo or, in one case, a taxidermy alligator head to enhance the instruction.

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Price, a credentialed teacher, brings a litany of visual aids to each school, which she displays on rows of tables.

At one point, she reached into a container and grabbed a bearded dragon lizard named Bob, which elicited some "oohs" from students as Price held it close to her while patting its back.

"When they are grumpy, they will puff themselves up to look bigger," Price said. The underside of their throat will turn black if the animal is stressed or sees a potential rival.

Price also spoke about Komodo dragons' hunting style. They ascribe to a death-by-saliva method.

Komodo dragons have an excess of bacteria in their mouths, Price said.

When the lizard strikes its prey, causing an open wound, the dragon will hold on long enough for the bacteria to seep in and slowly kill the animal.

After the presentation, students took turns walking by the animals to get closer looks.

Students get a closer look of replica tortoises and turtles during a presentation on reptiles Friday at El Morro Elementary School.
Students get a closer look of replica tortoises and turtles during a presentation on reptiles Friday at El Morro Elementary School. (Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

Friday marked the fifth time Price visited El Morro this school year. The school’s PTA raised money to cover her speaking costs.

The reptiles are Price's pets.

Price has a rotating list of topics that include magnetism, fossils and amphibians. She modifies certain vocabulary terms depending on the age level of students.

"I never claim to be a school science program," Price said. "This is a supplement to what the teachers are doing. I want kids to be aware, respectful and care."

First-grade teacher Kathi LeVan liked how Price emphasized animals' purposes.

"I liked what [Price] said that you don't have to like snakes, but understand their role," LeVan said.

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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