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Many people think the only difference between a millipede and a centipede is the number of legs. Since the Latin root centi- means one hundred and milli- means one thousand, centipedes must have one hundred legs and millipedes must have one thousand legs, right? Wrong. A centipede doesn’t even have fifty legs, and a millipede has nowhere near one thousand legs. Though, millipedes do have many more legs than centipedes.

There are some other notable differences as well. A centipede is flat and has only one pair of legs per body segment. A millipede is round and has two pairs of legs per body segment. A centipede is aggressive and fierce and is able to immobilize its prey with poisonous claws. A millipede is docile and slow. It eats vegetation and organic debris. And when threatened, it will roll up in a ball and hope its exoskeleton will be enough to protect it.

So, if you see a millipede, you have nothing to fear. But if you see a centipede, give it a wide berth. Its bite is painful to humans, though rarely dangerous.

Categories : latin education, science
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Next Friday will be Regents Academy’s  eighth annual Field Day. It is always a day filled with food, frolic, and fun. We have races. We play games. We eat hamburgers. And we even get to have a water balloon fight! But the thing I most enjoy about Field Day is the interaction between grade levels.

We have five seniors this year, and they are our team leaders. The rest of the students in the school have been divided up so that all the grade levels are mixed. And they will do everything together on that day. They will all assemble in the Great Room for a morning devotional and then it’s out to the flagpole to learn the team cheer. Once the teams have been gathered, the competitions begin!

I so enjoy this part. It is so touching to see a softer side of our young men come out. None of them hesitate to hoist a little one on their shoulders so he can see better. This is the day that the big ones forget about math assignments and papers and Latin and Herodotus and speeches and just enjoy those around them. Students at Regents Academy know how to work hard, but they also know how to play hard. And play is never more fun than when it is preceded by hard work.

The best example of what this day means to the little ones is found in the interaction between one of our senior boys and one of our first grade boys. The first grader knew that all the students would be divided up among the teams led by the seniors. So he went to his favorite senior and made a special request to be on his team. When the athletic director was finalizing the list, the senior approached her and asked if the little boy was on his team. He didn’t want to let him down.

When did it become a rule that all teenagers are rude and rebellious? Who decided that all teenagers are self-absorbed? The teenagers at Regents Academy high-five the little ones in the hall all of the time. Every day at lunch one of the little ones runs to one of our high schoolers and shares something important with him without fear of being rejected.

Field Day promotes these relationships. It is more than fun and games. Field Day is the day when those little ones get to spend the whole day with the big kids. And to one little boy, Field Day is the day he gets to spend with his hero.


Teach Less But Delve Deeper

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Now that the end of the school year is approaching and I see that there is no way for us to cover the remaining six chapters of our biology textbook as it took us three-fourths of the year to cover the first nine, I am struggling with deciding which topics should take priority. Do I teach them about ecosystems, the water cycle and the greenhouse effect, or do we talk about fish and dissect frogs? Do I skip the plants and talk about reptiles, or do I talk about birds and skip the mammals? How do I decide which is more important?

This a recurring problem. Rarely am I able to cover all the material in the textbook. There is so much information to cover and so little time to cover it. But is completing the textbook so important? My type-A personality is screaming, “Yes! It is in the textbook and therefore it must be taught. Besides, if it wasn’t important to memorize the lifecycle of a mushroom, the author wouldn’t have put it in there, would he?” But the truth is, completing the textbook, atleast in science, is not that important. Everything you want to know about a subject ( and some things you don’t) are readily available on the internet or at the nearest college library. Maybe it’s time to change the way I view the role of science in school.

The purpose of studying science is not to pump as much information into a student’s mind as possible and then hope that he retains it when it’s time for the next achievement test. The purpose of the study of science is to increase our understanding of and appreciation for the nature of God and His creation. A student’s appreciation for the beauty and order found in God’s creation doesn’t come from memorizing volumes of information. This type of understanding is superficial at best. An appreciation for God’s creation is better cultivated by taking fewer topics, and teaching the students how to delve more deeply into them. Then learning science is no longer just a transmission of information from teacher to student. It becomes an opportunity for discovery, observation, experimentation, articulation–all the skills we desire our science students to acquire.

So, now the question is no longer, “How can I get it all in before the end of May?” Instead, I’m going to choose a topic that will grab my students’ interests and show them how clever God was when he made this earth. Now the question is, “Amphibians, anyone?”

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in Nacogdoches, Texas