Spidey Sense: 4G Field Trip to NHM’s Spider Pavilion

On Oct. 28, 2014, Banyan Global Learning partnered once again with the Natural History Museum, Los Angeles for another 4G Field Trip. Last time we took the students on a tour of the Silk Road, but this time, with Halloween fast approaching, we took them to the creepy-cool open-air Spider Pavilion, home to the world’s largest orb spider species among other crawly little friends.

Spider Pavilion

Welcome to the Spider Pavilion!

Class 701 had recently completed the Dig Project – a third-annual collaboration with the Menlo School in Northern California in which students each dig up a cubic foot of earth before analyzing the types of animals they found and sharing that data with their collaborative partners. Spiders featured prominently in some of the data, which was a natural connection to NHM’s Spider Pavilion. Plus, spiders are just awesome.

Spider Pavilion Entrance

The start of the exhibit.

The enthusiastic Jesse Daniel (Supervisor of Floor Interpretation, Education & Exhibits) led our Silk Road 4G Field Trip and made a return appearance for this one, too. He showed us the Wolf Spider (who does not use a web to catch prey but rather hunts, like a wolf), the Giant Wood Spider (the largest orb spider in the world and a familiar friend to some of the teachers in Taiwan), the Golden Silk Spider (whose silk is some of the strongest in the world and is thus an important subject of scientific research), and many others. Here is an image of a Wolf Spider and a video with Jesse telling the students a little bit about it.

Wolf Spider display

Wolf Spider Display

Wolf Spider hanging upside down.

Here is a Wolf Spider hanging upside down under a table. They have little claws they use to do this!

Prior to the field trip, the students were given a survey asking what they would want to learn.  Some top responses were, “What kind of food do they eat?”, “Where do they live?” and “How can you tell the difference between a male and female spider?” Jesse tackles the latter question in this video clip:

“Did you know that?”

Bringing the Taiwan students so close to many species of spiders, mostly from North America, from thousands of miles away was another testament to the power of technology and our series of 4G Field Trips (although our field trips with NHM have taken advantage of their new building-wide TWC wifi). Here at Banyan Global Learning we continue to find ways to create a dynamic distance learning curriculum. We find compelling connections to our classroom content and use video teleconferencing technology to leverage opportunities such as this.

Golden Silk spider

Students looking at a Golden Silk spider.

Special thanks goes to the Natural History Museum and to Jesse Daniel for once again providing our students in Taiwan with the opportunity to visit this amazing facility and learn about these wonderful creatures.  As Jesse explains here (which was probably the most important take-away for the students), spiders are critical to the balance of our ecosystem.  So please, next time think twice before you smash one of these furry friends – instead, scoop him up and put him somewhere where he can to continue to benefit the environment.

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