Mid-Pacific Institute students go on ‘safaris’ to study critters

At Mid-Pacific Institute, students are learning early about the importance of protecting the earth.

Students go on “Lil Critters Safaris,” where they dig, chase, trap and try to find little critters of all kinds. Later, they bring their finds back to the classroom.

“In this one, I have a moth. I caught it with a net during class, before recess,” said first-grader Noah Sumikawa. “(Was it hard?) Yes. I was trying to catch a lot of things.”

Even at Noah’s age, they learn new things about the little critter world.

“They can camouflage. I learned that yesterday. So yesterday, we colored in cards to camouflage with stuff,” he said.

Instructor Darwin Bohnet leads the safari, giving students lessons along the way.

“The different kinds of organisms, for the insects, the spiders, centipedes, so we look at the difference between them, the body structure and then we start looking at the ecology, what do they feed on, where do they live, how can we find them, how can we catch them,” he explained.

One of the easiest for youngsters to catch is the cockroach.

“Cockroaches are a big thing here on campus,” Bohnet said. “In nature, they’re decomposers. They play an important role. When they get in someone’s house, it’s an issue, obviously, there’s some health concerns.”

The kids are intrigued by the unique characteristics of the bugs.

“Some have pictures on the back and the front, and that some can bite,” said second-grader Camryn Ng.

One student even captured a centipede.

This green outing is fun and educational for the youngsters.

“They look like beetles, but they’re cockroaches and I gave them names,” Sumikawa said. “These two beetles are called, I think… never mind.”

As for their instructor, Bohnet says his father named him after another man well-versed in nature.

“He actually indicated in his journal entry that he showed me years later that he thought maybe I would become a scientist. And here I am,” he said.

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