By Candace Birkelbach

Killeen Daily Herald

Tegus, wallabies and pythons – oh, my!

Students at Nolanville Elementary gazed with wonder as exotic animals were brought out from the Sea World Busch Gardens bus parked outside the school Friday morning.

The bus exhibit was one of 24 presentations in connection with the school's third annual Science Day.

Students learned about aerospace engineering, sports science, meteorology, wildlife biology, rockets, aquatic insects, pollution, physics, forensics, pet medicine, nutrition, germs and many other topics.

"We want to expose students to the real world of science," principal Sharon Davis said. "Our focus is to design engaging lessons for students and nothing is more hands-on than real science."

At the Sea World presentation, students gathered outside in front of a bus where animal ambassadors showed off some unique and beautiful animals.

Ginobli the tegu is a cold-blooded reptile that can be found in Argentina, animal ambassador Roberto Trejo told students. Ginobli looks similar to a crocodile and pokes its long, narrow tongue into the air to smell. Ginobli had chubby cheeks, indicating his gender as male, Trejo explained.

Children oohed and aahed as a female wallaby was brought out in a shoulder bag to simulate its mother's pouch. The wallaby, found only in Australia, is a marsupial similar to the kangaroo, Trejo said. Some students shouted out answers before Trejo could even tell them.

Trejo told the students the wallaby will be able to run up to 22 miles per hour when it reaches adulthood.

Katrina the alligator was next. Trejo told students how alligators can hold their breath up to one hour underwater while searching for prey.

Trejo then called four volunteers on stage for the next animal. Students looked flabbergasted as they opened their eyes to see an albino Burmese python resting in their arms.

The snake can grow up to 20 feet in length and weigh 250 pounds, Trejo said. The yellow and white giant snake can swallow a piece of food the size of a football, he said.

After the presentation, Trejo reminded the students to do their part in conserving energy to protect the environment.

Fifth-grader Wilson Everett, 10, said she enjoyed seeing the animals because she had never been to Sea World.

Everett, a Nolanville resident, said her favorite part was seeing the snake because her friend has a similar large snake that is 3 feet long.

Fifth-grader Kevin Casey, 10, said he liked the star laboratory.

"I can't always see the constellations at home so it was fun to learn them," Kevin said.

Davis said all the students seemed to be engaged and enthusiastic during Science Day.

"It's a great novelty to have people from the community that share their expertise," Davis said. "That builds a great connection to the professional learning community."

Campus instructional specialist Pamela Anderson said it took about six weeks to organize the event. She contacted potential guests who also made suggestions for other presenters.

"Science is an important subject," Anderson said. "When kids have the opportunity to visit with a professional, it sticks in their minds and clicks."

Contact Candace Birkelbach at or call 254-501-7553.

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