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Tyler Plack, left, Zachary Bell and Faye Barrett took critters to the Capitol.
Tyler Plack, left, Zachary Bell and Faye Barrett took critters to the Capitol. (By Moira Mclaughlin -- The Washington Post)
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Inside the Capitol, The Great Outdoors

· It's not uncommon to see fifth-graders touring Capitol Hill. What was unusual yesterday is that sharing the experience with the class from South Shore Elementary were an alligator, a flamingo, an armadillo, two clouded leopard cubs and two terrapins.

They were at the U.S. Capitol to support a bill called No Child Left Inside that would create a $500 million environmental education program to get kids out of the classroom and into nature.

"How can we learn by being inside?" asked Kristi Bridgwater, a student at the Crownsville, Maryland, school. "Sitting in front of a computer is not enough."

As Kristi listened to the measure's sponsors, Zachary Bell and Faye Barrett held Pebbles and Steve, the class terrapins.

The kids have been studying terrapins all year. At the start, Pebbles and Steve were the size of quarters. Later this month they will be released into the wild, where young terrapins often struggle to survive.

"We're jump-starting them," Zachary said.

Faye said she would like to write a book about terrapins.

Because of their project, Kayla Smith said that when she and her classmates grow up, they will be more aware of the environment.

-- Moira E. McLaughlin


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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