Victoria Rondinella, a second-grader at Miller Elementary School,
is fascinated with bugs.
“They’re really interesting because they crawl around and do
things you can’t do, like camouflage like the [walking] stick can do
or sting like the scorpion does,” Victoria said.
Victoria got the chance to closely observe insects and arthropods
when entomologist Susan E. Van Vorhis Key brought her Traveling
Insect and Arthropod Zoo to the school Wednesday.
Included in Key’s presentation were live specimens, arthropod and
insect puppets and models, a honey-filled honeycomb, silkworm cocoons
and pinned specimens.
“I was born loving insects,” Key said. As a child, Key said she
brought home anything that crawled, hopped or flew, and turned her
interest into her life’s work.
“I had to be a scientist, on stage, be creative and be around
kids, so I figured out what to do,” she said of her year-round
experiences transporting her menagerie to schools, zoos, museums and
fairs to educate children, teachers and families about the
inhabitants of her collection.
After Key speaks to the children, she lets them examine the
insects, even allowing them to touch the ones that do not sting or
“I touched the millipede,” Michelle Velasquez, 7, said excitedly.
“It felt cold.”
Key hopes the children will enjoy the wonder she feels about
insects and their part in the ecosystem.
“Every creature has a purpose, just as I think people do,” Key
said. “If [children] can develop a tolerance to something different
than them, I hope it extrapolates to a tolerance for different
Teacher Julie Waugh said her class enjoyed the presentation,
especially the hands-on part.
“It was not only educational, it tested their bravery -- and
mine,” she said.