Posted Date: 02/25/2021
Dustin Wilgers, the Assistant Professor of Biology at McPherson College joined West Elk School District's third grade class by web conference to educate students on spiders. Wilgers, who admittedly used to be afraid of spiders himself, conquered his fear after becoming interested in them and dove into further educating himself on the topic. His motivation to introduce knowledge about spiders and to lessen the customary fear of them inspired him to write Savanna Spider, Super Scientist Goes to School and his second book Savanna Spider and the Science Fair Mystery (Science Saves the Day). The third graders had read his first book prior to the visit and were delighted to have the opportunity to meet him in order to ask their prepared questions. Out of 400 species of spiders inhabiting Kansas, only 3 are harmful to humans: the black widow, brown recluse, and yellow sac spider. Based on this information, Wilgers shared the well-known advice, "Don't judge a book by its cover". Encouraging students to learn about subjects, such as spiders, prior to deciding that they don't like them. West Elk distributed signed copies of each book to every student in the class. Virtual events such as this one engage students on a deeper level and increase greater understanding of a wide array of subjects.